Yesterday marked the official launch of BiM, Peru’s groundbreaking nationwide mobile money platform. It’s been a historic collaborative effort between the country’s government, financial institutions, telcos, and other players. The platform enables fully-interoperable digital financial services across mobile networks and financial service providers in Peru. Yesterday was the public launch of the platform, following a soft launch within a control group in mid-December. The new mobile system presents a huge opportunity for Peru and for financial inclusion best practices the world over.
The project was spearheaded by Peruvian Digital Payments (PDP), a new service provider established in July 2015 by Peru’s government, financial institutions, telcos, and other stakeholders. PDP is co-owned by the Association of Banks of Peru (ASBANC) as well as many of its member banks and electronic money issuers. PDP developed the shared infrastructure for the mobile money service.
BiM can operate on smartphones or feature phones. One doesn’t have to have a preexisting formal account at a bank, access to internet on their cell, or even calling credit. At this time, BiM offers subscribers the ability to cash-in/out, check account balances, conduct person-to-person transfers, and top-up their mobile airtime. Subscribers can send electronic money to anyone, even if that recipient isn’t signed up with BiM. In such a case the recipient can visit an agent to register for BiM or simply withdraw money without registering. Miguel Arce, Commercial Head of PDP, shared that BiM is planning on rolling-out new services over the next year and a half, including ATM integration, deposits, utilities, and merchant payments.
BiM is accessible to subscribers of Movistar, Claro, and Entel mobile services, the three companies that provide the vast majority of mobile connections in the country. BiM enrollers select one of nine participating financial services entities, and conduct their transactions through these banks’ differentiated product and service offerings. Another 17 financial service providers are anticipated to join the system during the second quarter of this year.
For BiM users there are over 10,000 points of service at financial institutions and agents throughout the country. Along with marketing efforts by the banks and telcos, PDP is rolling-out a robust mass marketing campaign for BiM this month. On the whole, PDP seeks to reach 5 million people in 5 years.
Carolina Trivelli, Peru’s former Minister of Development and Social Inclusion and currently the Manager of ASBANC’s Electronic Payments Initiative, sees BiM as an on-ramp opportunity to “improve the lives of millions of unbanked Peruvians and help them to know the financial system better. Through this system, the financial intermediaries will get to know these clients and offer them new products and services.”
Elsewhere globally, similarly ambitious industry collaborations include banks coming together to create Visa, Interswitch, Metavante, and Vocalink. Examples in the mobile wallet realm include SoftCard in the U.S., and PayM in the U.K. However, results in these efforts have been mixed. A new payment platform in Jordan is currently in the works, led by the country’s central bank, financial institutions, Umniah, EMP-Middle East, and CIT-Vericash.
For more on digital financial services in Peru, check out this post from Carol Caruso, Senior Vice President of Accion’s Channels and Technology team. And for more on how Peru is a leader in financial inclusion, see the Global Microscope 2016.
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