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Mobile Financial Services in emerging markets

Emerging markets are as diverse as the countries and cultures that create them. But they are not without similarities. Our ConsumerLab reports on emerging Asia, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa reveal common threads in the habits, attitudes, challenges and opportunities across these markets.

The vast majority of workers in developing countries – 90 percent – are informally employed in cash-driven economies. They’re paid in cash, and they likewise save in cash, and thus don’t often participate in traditional financial services.

While cash payments offer speed and transparency, they become both a hassle and a liability when moving money across great distances. People in emerging markets often share financial responsibilities spread out across family members in rapidly growing cities as well as rural areas, making cash an inconvenient and sometimes dangerous method of payment.

The actual usage of mobile financial services remains low in most developing countries. However, there is nonetheless generally high interest in using mobile financial services in emerging markets, demonstrated by existing services such as MTN Mobile Money in Uganda and M-Pesa in Kenya, which already provide value for millions of users.

A number of factors represent barriers to widespread mobile commerce, one of the biggest being misconceptions about the security and availability of mobile money solutions. Using on-site agents, service providers have an opportunity to demonstrate first-hand the speed, security and convenience of mobile money.

Download the complete ConsumerLab report for a more detailed look at the developments and opportunities for m-commerce in emerging markets.

Sometimes I send money to my parents. With mobile money it goes right away, but through the bank it can take two or three days.”

Male, 25, Ghana
Money transaction