IDB approves $60m for mobile money

IDB approves $60m for mobile money

DBJ-led M3 project to go live by year-end

KARENA BENNETT Business reporter

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

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THE Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) yesterday approved a US$530,000 ($60-million-grant to help expand the ongoing mobile money for microfinance (M3) project.

The Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), along with its partner on the project — local tech firm Transcel — will have to match those funds with US$680,000 of its own.

M3, which will eventually see DBJ loans disbursed through micro-finance lenders using GPRS technology and automated banking machines (ABMs), is set to 'go live' and 'roll out' by the end of December, according to Hugo Daley, CEO of Transcel.

The project — currently in the first phase involving system integrations and small group use — has been delayed for some time, due to National Commercial Bank (NCB) — the commercial bank facilitating the project — restructuring its payment network to fit the new system.

"That switch has been taking a very long time, much longer than what even NCB had anticipated," Daley said.

As a result, IDB held its grant until it had confirmation that the bank was indeed going to be a part of the platform.

"This is something that we have long awaited," Daley said.

Expenditure for the mobile money project runs up to US$4 million, according to Daley. Of that amount, US$1.2 million is being budgeted to assist in rolling out the initiative.

Mobile money is expected to improve efficiency for micro-entrepreneurs conducting financial transactions.

"Financial transactions will be more convenient since mobile banking users can do them from any location and at any time," said the IDB on its website.

A number of public sector agencies are now considering joining the roll-out, including the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC), Micro Investment Development Agency (MIDA), as well as the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC).

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