Mobile money services are being deployed rapidly across emerging markets as a key tool to further the goal of financial inclusion. Financial inclusion, the development of novel methods to enable individuals at the base of the pyramid to access formal financial services and become part of the formal financial system, is considered a key pre-requisite for lifting these populations out of poverty and for driving economic growth. Therefore, this research on mobile money services, analyzed an array of mobile money deployments from across the emerging markets to attempt to understand which characteristics are critical for the success of a mobile money service, particularly at launch. The research covered five successful mobile money deployments – Telesom ZAAD in Somaliland, Dialog eZ Cash in Sri Lanka, Econet EcoCash in Zimbabwe, SMART Communications SMART Money in the Philippines, and Globe Telecom GCASH in the Philippines – and five less successful deployments – Vodacom M-Pesa in South Africa, MTN m-money in Uganda, Eko Financial Services in India, and the broader situations in Nigeria and Brazil.
The analysis was performed by reviewing existing primary research on these deployments, in order to understand how they were developed, structured, and implemented, and how those factors impacted their eventual success, or lack thereof. Conclusions were drawn to develop a preliminary framework to help prospective mobile money operators with the design and development of a de-novo system. This framework lays out the key decisions mobile operators must make, and perspectives on which paths will lead to the highest chance of success. Many aspects of a mobile money service can likely be generalized and replicated from country to country, and don’t need to be re-invented for each deployment, but that there are important components which should be customized to fit the local context.