Philippine Experiences in Mobile Phone Banking highlighted during the Asia Pacific Mobile Financial Services Summit

The United States Agency for International Development-supported Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines-Microenterprise Access to Banking Services (RBAP-MABS) Program joined mobile financial service stakeholders at the 5th Annual Mobile Financial Services – Asia Pacific Summit held at the Waterfront, Singapore on September 6-7, 2011. The annual conference gathers partners in mobile, banking, business and technology industries to build a robust and sustainable mobile commerce ecosystem.

Industry trends and challenges in the mobile financial services were discussed during the two-day summit. The impact of the near field communication (NFC) technology and smartphones were the highlights of the summit. Banks in countries including Singapore, Japan and Korea are now utilizing the power of smartphones in providing mobile financial services to their clients. The socio-economic impact and success of this innovation in the financial services space were recognized.

The USAID MABS Senior MIS Manager, Anthony Petalcorin, discussed the Philippine experiences in promoting mobile financial services during the second day of the summit. He shared how rural banks and other microfinance institutions entered into partnerships with mobile operators to promote and harness the benefits of mobile financial services. A case study featuring one of the participating banks of the RBAP-MABS Program was used to illustrate the challenges and benefits of partnering to offer mobile financial services. Opportunities for expanding access to financial services for microentrepreneurs and low-income households via mobile money was also highlighted during his presentation.

According to Ms. Rasheda Sultana, Senior Specialist of the Strategy Department of Grameenphone Bangladesh, Kenya posted the highest and fastest growth rate in mobile money services due to the environment and limited competing channels. However, she noted that the Philippine mobile financial services model is considered to be one of the best primarily due to the very positive regulatory enabling environment.

In general, the summit presented new dimensions and innovations that will help shape the future of mobile financial services. It also helped to create more linkages and connections among various stakeholders in the mobile financial services sector.

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