eDevelopment workshop on mobile innovation – Session 2

Notes from the World Bank eDevelopment Thematic Group workshop on “Mobile Innovations for Social and Economic Transformation – From Pilots to Scaled-up Implementation on 16 September in Washington DC.


Session 2: Mobile Innovations in Financial Services


Chair Introduction: Arata Onoguchi

How can the payment industry support the World Bank with projects and vice-versa


DRC ex-Combatant Allowance Payment Project
Roisin De Burca
, Senior Social Development Specialist, WB

Miyanda Mulambo, Managing Director, Celpay Zambia Ltd.

Project in DRC – transition between military and civil life

  • Payments for ex combatants via mobile and available cash in the country – Celplay http://zm.celpay.com
  • Problem: question of supply and demand
  • the project is working now


  • Celpay operating in Zambia, Kenya, Zimbabwe, … – actually a mobile payment company
  • Operating since 2002
  • Business model – not a bank but a technology company
  • partner with banks that hold the money, agents and mobile operators
  • services e.g. corporate payment solutions
  • providing services which make cash transactions obligatory

Project – how did it work?

  • paying out 25$ to ex-combatants
  • facilitated with an application developed by Celpay
  • registration of area of living at a central point, getting an ID card and a PIN
  • possibility to collect the payment at the living area with the ID and PIN at a Celpay agent
  • good for people without mobile phones and bank accounts
  • one of the biggest challenges: one of the first programs like that all around the world, we were learning as we went by
  • hard to find agents as there were few people starting businesses right after the war
  • a lot of resistance from certain parts of the government – corruption tends to be a big problem and certain people didn’t like transparent solutions

There are various ways to apply this application

Q & A:

was there a standardization for the cell phones?

  • works on pretty much every mobile phone

entry of mobile network operators in the mobile payment space a problem for independent payment providers?

  • will indeed be a problem, but operators often have the primary goal to keep their providers
  • there will always be a need for innovative solutions


Banking the Poor via G2P Payments
Sarah Rotman, Associate Microfinance Analyst, CGAP

A lot of people get money from their governments

  • not on an account which allows them to save
  • they have no possibility to save money or spend only half

The officials who are dealing with them are not really caring about this financial inclusion of the poor

Financial inclusion is desirable for the state as well

  • mobile payments
  • credit/debit card payments

Electronic or mobile payment is even significantly cheaper and may reduce corruption

Small savings accounts are expensive for basic banking, they need either large number of recipients, large sums or frequent long term schedule of payments

Case studies of Brazil, South Africa

There are certain conditions that need to be enabling & interesting to try out

  • the nature of the flows
  • regulatory openness of agents
  • a government body must stand behind it and promote it
  • donors can help design experiments – measurement of usage of financial services, impact on welfare, and understanding business case for providers

Interesting to watch the coming years


Commentary: Andi Dervishi, Global Practice Lead, Investments in Payments, IFC

The mobile part is already there – we are delivering to an old need but we are revisiting the topic of electronic payment, mobile is only the channel

in eCommerce a lot of players have come up in the last years

in the industry the process of handling electronic money is in place now

government has to think about regulations enabling the industry to create innovative solutions for this old problem


Key Areas of Mobile Payments / Pre-paid Value Card Solutions
Harish Natarajan, Payment Systems Specialist, WB

prepaid card

  • no banking relationship required, easy to get
  • PIN code
  • can be used in an offline manner

chip cards need to be distributed, issued / loaded, used for paying / withdrawing of money

mitigating fraud – e.g. getting the card for a particular usage

enhanced user experience because people don’t have to get in the queue for getting funds but use the ones already on the card

several success stories in several countries

the technology is there, the various players would be ready, big potential


sociology of a card vs. a cell phone is very different – which technologies are better to reach the people intendeed to? does technology really make no difference?

  • mobile channel is a lot channel of course, but we should be aware that the technology is already there, we have to clear our minds from the implementation channels to talk about the service again – business perspective rather than technology perspective

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eDevelopment workshop on mobile innovation – Session 2
was published on 16.09.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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