Mobile Money: A Recap

I’m spending today at the Macroeconomics of Mobile Money conference at the Columbia Institute for Tele-Information (CITI).

Liveblogging. Please excuse misrepresentation, misinterpretation, typos and general stupidity.

James Alleman is giving closing comments. His takeaways:

There is a class that’s underserved by formal banking, and there are a lot of people who are ready to use mobile banking services in the developing world.

The success of existing services like M-Pesa and Menekse Gencer is impressive and lays a good foundation for future efforts. It appears as though mobile banking efforts will need a formal banking partner to be truly successful.

We still don’t have a good idea of what kinds of regulatory systems are going to be required.

Anonymity is a major question: balancing privacy with criminal threats.

Right now, security is an afterthought. This is not good.

There are too many “standards” right now.

User interface is key.

High demand for VoIP; the people who are demanding this (migrant workers, those who want to send remittances back to their families) are also good candidates for mobile banking services.

Walled gardens are a huge problem: everyone wants a piece of the action, but no one wants to cooperate.

Overall: this is a huge, growing, untapped market with many issues left to be resolved.