30 Countries, 420 Ideas, 20 Winners!
MSB through a collaboration between its Centre of Excellence and an interesting mix of partners (more on that in a subsequent Blog), has gained the distinction of being one of 20 best winning ideas selected for the Multi-Agency Initiative "Technologies for Financial Inclusion Program ". Three multi-lateral Agencies, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) and the Andean Development Corporation (CAF) issued a Call for Project Ideas that would improve the low-income population’s access to financial services by applying innovative technological solutions in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), which attracted 420 Idea submissions from 30 Countries. The Program Selection Committee included representatives from all three Agencies, Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) - The World Bank, DAI, and the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA).
MSB's submission along with another from the St. Thomas Cooperative Credit Union were the two successful Caribbean projects selected (http://www.tec-in.org/en/news/20-best-winner-ideas-technology-contest). Interestingly both ideas related to "Low cost technological applications for mobile banking". In fact, of the 20 winning ideas, 13 relate to the use of Mobile technologies. Another clear indicator that the mobile channel, in terms of its ubiquity, accessibility and low-cost service delivery capability, is being seen as the means to reaching the proverbial "base of the pyramid"..
I've watched with interest the recent wave of pronouncements in the local media about "Mobile Banking" and the latest forays by the traditional industry players into this hugely untapped opportunity space.. Will the successful play emerge from Banking or from Telecomms? What about the Regulators (in both domains).. Will they be seen as innovators and enablers? Or outdated, heavy-handed obstacles to progress and entrepreneurship.. We would all do well to recall, that the social and market revolution that we've come to know as pre-paid mobile emerged in complete contrast to the market and regulatory paradigm that prevailed at the time. History has repeatedly punished the myopia of incumbency.
Anyway congrats to our colleagues at St. Thomas Credit Union, and it's unto the next phase of the "Technology for Financial Inclusion" program, in which each of the selected ideas, with the help of the Program, will undergo the development of a strategy to determine the financial feasibility of the project. Ultimately in the third and last phase, the project will be implemented... The selected Project ideas will receive initial funding to develop a project strategy, and up to US$ 500,000 to implement it, depending on each project’s rationale, its cost-benefit ratio and its approval.
Stay tuned for updates and I'll provide some more details on MSB's Strategic Partnerships and our Innovative Idea in another blog..