It has been almost 5 months since the deviating earthquake that brought Haiti to its knees, and the rebuilding process is still on going. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) recently announced a $10 million incentive fund to jumpstart financial services by mobile phones in Haiti and to help expedite the delivery of cash assistance by humanitarian agencies. This initiative lays the foundation for advanced banking services that could help millions of Haitians lift themselves out of extreme poverty. This will allow Haitians to send, receive, and store money using their mobile phones, as only 10% of the population has ever used a commercial bank. The fund will offer cash awards to companies that initiate mobile financial services in Haiti. The first company to launch a mobile money service that meets certain criteria in the next six months will receive $2.5 million. The second operator to launch and reach these benchmarks within 12 months will receive $1.5 million. Another $6 million will be awarded as the first 5 million transactions take place, divided accordingly between those operators that contributed to the total number of transactions. In the short term, mobile money services have the potential to accelerate Haiti’s recovery as more than one-third of the country’s bank branches, ATMs, and money transfer stations are not operational. In the long term, mobile money could help millions of Haitians improve their lives through easy access to savings accounts and other financial services.
via cellular news