Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Status of Branchless banking

Many advances have been made in the past period towards the dream of branchless banking. Financial services have always been available to lower income earners under trees and in villages. We are all familiar with informal saving schemes and community lending mechanisms. These provided in a need that obviously existed, but were always informal and offered no or limited protection to the consumer. Also, because they are not visible to regulators, it is difficult to work at improving systems to support these. Infrastructure available are also often limited in capacity.

This is now changing with new support from central banks and guidance from the Worldbank. A concerted effort is being made to include previously marginalised people into the formal banking world. This is of course made possible through mobile banking and utilising new types of disruptive banking, but the more important this is being given momentum through support from central banks. The most recent example is clear guidelines recently published by the Pakistan central bank.

A number of major banks also announced initiatives in providing product and services to these markets. Recent announcements came from banks like Tameer Bank in Pakistan, ICICI bank in India, Corporation bank in Mongolia, Pacific and Western in Canada to name a few.

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