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New Report Finds Women Are An Underserved Market For Mobile Financial Services

BARCELONA, Spain, Feb. 26, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- A study released today by the GSMA mWomen Programme and Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) entitled, Unlocking the Potential: Women and Mobile Financial Services in Emerging Markets, shows that women in developing countries represent a significant underserved market and commercial opportunity for mobile financial service providers. The study, focused on women in Indonesia, Kenya, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea and Tanzania, was undertaken to gain additional insight into how financial institutions and mobile network operators can better support the complex financial lives of women at the base of the pyramid.

Around the world more than 2 billion people, the majority of whom are women, lack access to basic financial services. The study, led by Bankable Frontier Associates, found that women often also face an additional burden of having primary responsibility for managing the household finances. These resource-poor women must overcome numerous challenges in managing their finances: incomes are low, irregular and unpredictable, and formal financial tools hard to access.

Key report findings include:

  • Women actively contribute to household income - 75 per cent of women surveyed contribute some amount of income, most often from irregular sources like small businesses or agricultural sales;
  • Women use a variety of tools to manage household finances - Nearly 60 per cent of women surveyed are saving money for daily expenses and long-term needs and a full one-third pay the family's utility bills or make other types of remittances; and
  • Women recognise the security and privacy of mobile money - In Kenya, for example, 95 per cent of women using mobile remittances rated them as secure and private. In comparison, only roughly half of those using personal delivery of cash as their primary method consider it secure and private.

"At Visa, we believe mobile technology is a key component in advancing financial inclusion, providing the excluded a convenient and accessible point of entry to the formal financial system," said Aletha Ling, Chief Operating Officer of Fundamo, a Visa company. "This is particularly true for women, who face additional barriers to entering the financial mainstream and for whom security and privacy are critical issues. By working to build relevant services, expand distribution networks and tailor their marketing efforts, the mobile financial services community can create better approaches for reaching this underserved group."

"This research clearly demonstrates that women play a critical role in the success of mobile financial services deployment," said Chris Locke, Managing Director, GSMA Mobile for Development. "It underscores the fact that services delivered via mobile phone can better meet women's financial management needs than many of the informal tools they use today and, equally important, provides actionable guidance about how MFS providers can best expand and market their services to better address women's requirements."

According to the report, women are active contributors to household incomes, and as household financial managers, they are responsible for a variety of transactions such as remittances, payments and money storage that MFS providers are well-positioned to deliver. As an additional commercial benefit to MFS providers, when women's financial and payment needs are met consistently, they can be very loyal and evangelising customers. Furthermore, their role as primary recipients of government-to-person payments means that providers who serve women, may be better positioned to provide solutions for the emerging wave of payments in the future.

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