I continue to be very impressed with Simon Cavill of Mi-Pay Ltd. He is the strategy director of a company doing pioneering work in the mobile payments world in Africa. I caught up with him again at Forum Oxford at the end of April 2009 and asked him to give us an update on how the market is developing and the immediate challenges ahead - cash shortages in rural areas and keeping the system secure. As usual, Simon is open and passionate about what they're up to.
Mobile payments are happening all over the world, but especially in rural areas of Africa, where ATM machines are scarce and most people don't have a bank account. The mi-pay method focuses on the diaspora who are crucial to the economies of many African countries. Global aid is estimated at 60 billion dollars. The amount sent back to Africa through the diaspora network is ten-fold that figure - and 600 million may be an underestimate because this form of informal trade is difficult to measure.
Personally, I see mobile payments as being very important to ensure that correspondents working for radio and TV stations get paid for their work. I know that so much training in developing countries turns out to be a waste of time because those trained cannot make a career out of what they learned.
In the first interview, Simon explains how the system works and why it is growing so fast in developing countries.
and then this update recorded late last month in forumoxford09.