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COVID-19 has quite literally brought the world to a halt. Like many, the Indian government moved decisively and in stages. A three-week lockdown of the country that began on March 25 has since been extended thrice, to the end of May. The lockdown resulted in some unintended consequences: over 100 million migrants trying to get home, many on foot; farmers struggling to get their produce to market; and millions of jobs lost (CMI data says over 110 million people are without work, and the lockdown cost 27 million youth their jobs in April alone).

In an attempt to flatten the curve, the economy has also flattened. But the good news is that both the government and the private sector have stepped up their game and are fortunate to have an existing digital infrastructure on which to build their responses. IndiaStack, a world-class tech and data infrastructure that puts India among the most digitally-forward governments in the world, has been at the center of COVID-19 responses, enabling digital transfers, data-driven targeting, and the growth of e-commerce. …


The GSMA’s recently launched 2019 State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money highlighted a major milestone that the industry crossed last year: more than 1 billion mobile money accounts.

For the first time, digital transactions represent the majority (57%) of mobile money transaction values. A larger proportion of money is entering and leaving the system in digital form, rather than through cash. This means that customers are keeping their funds digital and actively using mobile money, rather than immediately converting that digital value to cash. And in another industry first-the total value in circulation (including person-to-person and merchant payments) reached $22 billion in December 2019, more than doubling over the last two years and outpacing the total value of outgoing transactions ($17.5 billion). User activity rates are at their highest level too — 35.8% in 2019 vs. 34.5% in 2018. …


November 24, 2016 | Mobile Money | Global | Arunjay Katakam

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Mobile credit and savings services have been gaining traction using different models all of which require a credit or savings provider to partner with a financial institution — be it a bank, mobile money provider or MFI. However, in the past year, a new approach has emerged, which minimises the need for mobile credit providers to partner with financial institutions and/or mobile money providers.[1] Driven by the ubiquity of smartphones, this new approach uses data from users’ smartphones[2] to credit score potential customers and offer them loans. Tala and Branch are two start-ups who use this approach to credit score their customers via an app. Both companies then rely on these self-created scores and lend off their own balance sheet. …


February 11, 2016 | Mobile Money | Global | Arunjay Katakam

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In the past five years, more mobile network operators have successfully scaled their mobile money services based on an agent-based model, helping increase financial inclusion by reducing the high infrastructure costs of traditional “bricks and mortar” banking. As mobile money continues to grow, potentially accelerated with the rise of smartphones, we see three major mobile money trends to watch in 2016.

1. Increasing adjacent revenue streams

Adjacencies are revenues or savings derived from asymmetric business models. Here are a few examples:

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Over time, we anticipate more providers will experiment with alternate business models, like freemium and subscription models, and we expect these to emerge instead of charging consumers a fee for every transaction. …


January 14, 2016 | Mobile Money | Global | Arunjay Katakam

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This blog post was co-written by Arunjay Katakam and Ben Lyon, a board member of Kopo Kopo.

The opportunity of merchant payments in mobile money makes them impossible to ignore. Enabling consumers to pay for goods and services with mobile money increases the utility of a mobile money service, creates an incentive for consumers to store value on their mobile money account, and reduces a mobile money provider’s cash-out commission costs.

But how much should a merchant payment cost, and who should bear that cost? Various pricing models exist, from Safaricom M-PESA’s hybrid model in Kenya to Telesom ZAAD’s free model in Somaliland. With new merchant payment services launching every month, we wanted to start an open conversation around best practices and possible pricing models. …


December 17, 2015 | Mobile Money | Global | Arunjay Katakam

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This blog post was co-written by Arunjay Katakam and Alex Lazarow from Omidyar Network.

Mobile is poised to disrupt micro insurance access and delivery in emerging markets. While the mobile-delivered micro insurance industry is nascent, it is accelerating rapidly. Today there are 119 mobile-led deployments globally, with eight services having issued over one million policies (up from five last year). Initial results from a survey of deployments suggests global coverage now exceeds 30 million people, a 68% growth rate since last year.

At the recent Mobile Money Global Event in Cape Town, we hosted a panel on lessons learnt with three micro-insurance industry leaders: MicroEnsure, BIMA and Inclusivity Solutions. These innovators have taken different strategies to scale mobile-led micro insurance, highlighted by their approaches to reaching customers, growing the product range and building partnerships. This blog post captures the discussion from that session and these different approaches to delivering mobile-led insurance. …


August 24, 2015 | Mobile Money | South Asia | India | Arunjay Katakam

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This post was written with contributions from Lara Gidvani.

Mobile money in India has come a long way in the last eight years, with the landscape changing each time new regulations have been introduced. According to the GSMA’s mobile money tracker there are 14 mobile money services, of which six are led by mobile operators.

After lengthy policy discussions and consultation, the Reserve Bank of India issued the Guidelines for Payments Banks on November 27, 2014 and in February 2015, received 41 applications.

What are Payment Banks?


June 4, 2015 | Mobile Money | Global | Arunjay Katakam

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What have we learned from mature markets?

In recent months, we’ve been hearing a lot about technology companies launching mobile payments on smartphones in the US. In October 2014 we saw the launch of Apple Pay. In February 2015, Google announced its acquisition of Softcard — a joint-venture between US mobile operators formerly known as ISIS, who had laid off 60 staff in January 2015 — a move many commentators believe is in response to Apple Pay. In addition to gaining Softcard’s back-end technology and intellectual property, Google Wallet / Android Pay will soon be preloaded on all phones sold by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon in the United States. Softcard isn’t the only mobile operator joint venture offering payments that has seen a change. …


May 21, 2015 | Mobile Money | Global | Arunjay Katakam

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The post is the final part of a series looking at key findings from the 2014 State of the Industry Report on Mobile Financial Services.

In a previous post, I looked at mobile insurance and how commercial and distribution models are shaping services. Today, I will take a closer look at mobile savings and credit services that are riding the rails laid down by mobile money deployments.

Mobile savings

Mobile technology can help people with low incomes to store value in a secure and convenient way. There are two basic ways you can save using a mobile phone (see Figure below), both of which are gaining traction. First, the mobile money account itself can be used for cash storage, regardless of whether it is issued by a bank or mobile operator. …


May 7, 2015 | Mobile Money | Global | Arunjay Katakam

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The post is part of a series looking at key findings from the 2014 State of the Industry Report on Mobile Financial Services.

Having looked at various aspects of mobile money, it’s time to move to the second part of the State of the Industry report, covering mobile insurance, credit and savings. In this post, I will take a closer look at mobile insurance services that are becoming increasingly widely available. The MMU Deployment Tracker shows that 10 new services were launched in 2014, taking the total to 100 live services across 30 different countries. …

About

Arunjay Katakam

Arunjay Co-founder x3, Exit x2, Ex-GSMA Mobile Money, Payment Specialist — Solving for poverty

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