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UN, other groups launch new mobile payments initiative

Oct 08, 2012 Dave King

Mobile payments have been an extremely hot topic in recent months, as more individuals around the world adopt smartphones and tablets and use them to carry out transactions. The benefits to both the consumer and the average business range from convenience to the opportunity for better security and reaching what was otherwise considered impossible demographics for commerce. Now, a new report is asserting that electronic payments might be a method of lifting individuals out of poverty in several countries around the globe. This was would be another big step for the mobile payments market, as the ability to reach the underbanked and unbanked citizens in America has already made more businesses and banks accept the payment processing technology. Capital Development Fund has high hopes
The United Nation's Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Citi, Omidyar Network, Visa and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) recently announced a joint venture called the Better Than Cash Alliance. The group is setting out to bolster electronic payment use around the world, specifically targeting demographics in poverty. According to the Better Than Cash Alliance, its members will be advocating for electronic payments in several countries, asking governments, businesses and development groups to begin accepting mobile transactions, as well as offering support to individuals who do not know how to use the technology. "We know that electronic payments can empower people and help include them in economic life," Deputy Executive Secretary of the U.N. Capital Development Fund, Christine Roth, explained in the announcement. "Yet, while there are many benefits in shifting away from cash, the effort requires leadership, resources and technical expertise. By offering these services to governments, private sector and development community organizations, we believe we can accelerate the shift to electronic payments." Importance of access to financial services
The alliance noted that 2.6 billion people live on less than $2 per day, while 90 percent of them do not have access to formal financial services. As the world continues to move in a more digital direction - especially with regard to commerce - these individuals run the risk of falling even further behind. By advocating the support of these individuals, the group hopes this population will have a better chance at obtaining the financial services they need to assimilate into an increasingly cashless society.