Testing mobile money's potential in the EBRD region

Hand holding a mobile phone

The EBRD has assessed the market potential for the introduction of mobile money services in its beneficiary countries.

Mobile money refers to a range of financial services available to mobile phone users including access to bank account services, money transfers to domestic or international payees and payments for goods and services.

Mobile money is an important technology because it gives access to financial services to anyone with a mobile phone, including the 2.7 billion people around the world who don’t have a bank account.

The ability to transfer money simply and affordably is especially important for such people considering that remittance flows – money transfers made by foreign workers to individuals in their home country – to developing countries reached US$ 406 billion in 2012.

What does mobile money have to do with the EBRD?

Recognising the potential of mobile money services, the EBRD commissioned a study of 29 countries where the Bank works to determine which ones were most suitable for the development of these services. The key success criteria included population size and mobile device penetration, regulations and policies in place and levels of economic growth.

The study took place thanks to technical cooperation funding provided by Luxembourg. To date, Luxembourg has contributed €27.5 million in donor funding for projects across a range of sectors including legal transition and policy dialogue programmes, financial sector development, gender equality, social inclusion, agribusiness and environmental sustainability.

What did the study find?

Based on the above and other criteria, seven countries were identified as being the most suitable for the development of mobile money services. They are Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine.

The project was shortlisted for a prize at the prestigious 2014 Management Consultancies Association Awards in the international projects category.