U.S., Philippines Improve Access to Financial Services Through Mobile Phones

For Immediate Release

Thursday, September 13, 2012
USAID Press Office

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Together with the Philippines’ major mobile money service providers, the U.S. Government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) today launched the Scaling Innovations in Mobile Money (SIMM) Project.  This project, first announced on June 8 during a meeting between President Benigno Aquino III and (USAID) Administrator Rajiv Shah in Washington, is the first full-scale mobile money project supported by USAID in the Philippines.

USAID Chief Innovation Officer and Senior Counselor to the Administrator, Dr. Maura O’Neill, and USAID/Philippines Mission Director Gloria D. Steele led the event along with Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI)-Globe BanKO President Teresita Tan, G-Xchange Inc. President Paolo Baltao, and Smart Communications Head of Financial Services Tricia Dizon.

Dr. O’Neill said, “This innovative partnership builds upon USAID/Philippines’ current interventions in microfinance and mobile banking to expand financial services even further through new technologies.  It will enable Filipinos even from the remotest parts of the country to send money home, save money, pay for unexpected medical costs, school fees, or invest in their business using their mobile phones.”  

According to a 2011 Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas report, only 26 percent of Filipinos have access to formal financial services.  Out of the 1,635 municipalities in the country, 37 percent or 610 municipalities do not have access to banks.  The SIMM project takes advantage of the high penetration rate of mobile phone subscribers in the Philippines to close this gap and extend financial services to Filipinos anywhere in the archipelago.

USAID/Philippines Director Gloria Steele explained that, SIMM is based on partnerships with national and local government and the private sector that together will build and strengthen local components of the ‘mobile money ecosystem’ in select pilot areas specifically for government services, electronic payroll distribution and payment systems.

“By offering a safe, cost-effective, and more convenient way of doing business, mobile money technology will provide an important tool to promote financial inclusion and transparency,” Steele added.  

This project will help to address some of the ‘binding constraints to economic growth’ identified under the Partnership for Growth, signed in November 2011 by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario.

Through partnerships with government, rural banks and telecommunications operators, USAID in 2004 pioneered early initiatives to help microenterprises gain access to financial services by using a mobile money approach.  Since that time, rural banks have processed more than 2.7 million mobile money-enabled transactions valued at over PhP15 billion (approx. US$350 million).

Last updated: January 22, 2015

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