Sunday, April 18, 2010

What about China and banking the unbanked?

Often when banking the unbanked is being spoken about, we talk of the billions of people that have a cellphone and no bank account. As a matter of fact, "banking the next billion" has become a battle cry from Silicon Valley to Bangalore. Fact of the matter is that a big part of this billion live in China.

In a recent article in Finextra (read here), it was reported that card companies (Visa, Mastercard, etc.) approached the WTO because they are being blocked in issuing their cards and building acceptance networks. This made me think about this vast market in relation to mobile banking (especially banking the unbanked). I pride myself in knowing about mobile banking initiatives: what is being launched, by who, how they conform to regulations, what the commercial models are like. I know the people and I know the tactics. But when it gets to China, I know almost nothing.

So this is the question: if things are happening in China, why don't we know about it? Why does the Chinese experts not share with us what they are doing, or why don't they come and learn what others are doing? Why can't I find any (or very little) information on the Internet or in analysts reports? Maybe banking the unbanked is not high on the agenda in China...

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