MasterCard this week launched a new initiative to bring mobile money services to underbanked consumers around the world.
The MasterCard "Mobile Money Partnership Program" is a partnership with mobile services providers Comviva, Sybase 365 and Utiba to enable unbanked and underbanked consumers to purchase goods and services via their mobile phones at "millions of brick and mortar and online merchants worldwide," as well as transfer funds and pay bills.
According to MasterCard, Comviva, Sybase 365 and Utiba's mobile money solutions are installed or being deployed by more than 200 telecommunication operators and banks across the globe covering more than one billion consumers. While only about half of the world's households have bank accounts – and an even lower proportion in developing countries – seven out of 10 people worldwide have a mobile phone. According to Juniper Research, the combined market for all types of mobile payments is expected to reach more than $600 billion globally by 2013, double the current figure.
Among the services being offered by MasterCard through the program include prepaid companion cards that account holders can use at merchants that accept MasterCard cards, virtual card accounts that can be used for e-commerce payments with a user's mobile money account, P2P payments between subscribers of two different mobile money services and payments using mobile phones for goods and services at merchants that do not have traditional POS acceptance.
"Our approach is to work with all leading players in the mobile money ecosystem to bring the benefits of electronic payments to those who otherwise wouldn’t have access to formal financial services," said Mung Ki Woo, group executive, mobile for MasterCard Worldwide in a statement. "Comviva, Sybase 365 and Utiba are key strategic platform partners to help implement this vision."