Sunday, October 14, 2007
Perceptions of Banking in Developing Worlds
It is a phenomena that many observers have seen: Mobile banking is taking off in developing world more rapidly than in first world economies. Many people have asked why? I have now come across a number of people that seems to imply that this is because people in developing countries are prepared to use inferior products, that they would not mind using mobile banking if it is insecure or not usable - this is so far from the truth and is an indication of a lack of exposure and understanding.
Mobile banking deployments in Africa are far more advanced (both technologically and conceptually) than what is available in other parts of the world. These solutions deploy the highest degree of security and design than any I have seen. (and I have been around). As a matter of fact these solutions represents a quantum jump in security and features. If true (which I think you may doubt anyhow), why would this be the case?
I believe this came about because of the following reasons:
a. Development of mobile banking in Africa was developed "under the radar". It was not scrutinised as is usually the case with advances in technology. Nobody felt like copying the developments or even to analyse them in more detail. This lead to the development of extremely advanced secure solutions over almost TEN years, without any-one else doing it.
b. Africa do not have any legacy systems. As we all know, legacy systems often constrain systems development. Mobile banking systems in the early days were not exposed to these constraints.
c. When you have very little and have lots of needs, you are more prepared to experiment. This was/is the case in Africa, where subscribers, corporates and governments embraced mobile banking as a means to alleviate many of the problems of Africa. Also in these situations you are more forgiving. This allowed mobile banking to evolve to a very powerful solution.
It pains me when people belittle the technology from developing economies. This technology is far more advanced than what is available in developed economies. If you don't believe me, come and have a look.