It is hard for most Americans to fathom, but in many remote locations in Africa there isn’t simply the lack of a local bank, but also no option to even have a bank account. In fact, accounting to Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), a financial services consortium, there are about one billion people throughout the developing world who have access to a mobile phone, yet have no bank account. CGAP sees that that the number of those with handsets and no bank account would rise to 1.7 billion by 2012.
Earlier this year Bill Gates pledged $12.5 million to help the world’s poor obtain access to a bank. Analysts think this is just a small step, and that mobile banking could be worth $5 billion by 2012, with up to one in five of those 1.7 billion people using the mobile as a means to access banking services.
Of course, this type of network could also benefit people in other remote locations, but could even benefit users in the United States. The concept would allow agents, including shopkeepers, to take deposits and even issue cash, all from transactions made on the mobile handsets. This could be very helpful to those in urban areas where there aren’t regular banks, as well as more rural areas where banks can often be far and few between. It could also be helpful for college students, who might be far from their home and opt not to open a local bank account.
Cellphones Provided to the Poor
Of course accessing bank information via a mobile phone isn’t so easy in the U.S. if you don’t have a mobile phone, but The New York Times is reporting on a fairly new program that is providing handsets to those in need. The phones are part of government subsidies, and provide about 68 minutes of talk time each month to low-income Americans.
The paper reports that since November, the number of customers who have received the free or subsidized wireless service have doubled to 1.4 million.
Mobile Rumors & Releases: Casio Exilim Mobile
Don’t call the new Casio Exilim Mobile just another camera phone because it could more accurately be called a phone camera. This Verizon Wireless handset is built on the popular Exilim line of ultra-compact point-and-shoot digital cameras from Casio, with full phone functionality. This is also the type of mobile handset that can stand up to a day of fun in the sun, and sand and water too. It is resistant to most environments including humidity, salt, fog and even solar radiation.
The camera specs are noteworthy as this handset features a built-in 5.1-megapixel camera with auto focus and 3x optical zoom. It includes an LED flash and image stabilizer technology, as well as “Best Shot” 15 presets that automatically changes the setup based on the background. This handset also can double as an Mp3 player and supports V CAST Video. The Casio Exilim is available for Verizon customers for $280 after a $50 mail-in rebate at Verizon stores (also available online from Verizon Wireless).