Mobile Money Summit 03

By Emmanuel Narokobi

Chief Operating Officer of Bank South Pacific, Lew Kenah, got in touch with me today about their SMS Banking service. I mentioned their service in a past post and I finally have a copy of their presentation here.

BSP’s SMS Banking service is currently in staff pilot mode and has been so since December 2008. So they’ve invited me to join up to see how it works for myself, so I’ll be following up on this post with an update on that soon.

In the meantime here are some points on the service:

The Need for Change

  • Only 12% of the population have bank accounts
  • Only 17% of population have a mobile phone
  • Majority of un-banked live in remote areas
  • Expensive to establish ‘Bricks & Mortar’ Branches though not out of the question
  • Customer growth potential is significant

BSP’s SMS Banking Service

  • Very simple to use
  • Single SMS number 16 277 (BSP)
  • Visit Branch to register
  • Options available NOW: i) Balance enquiry on all linked accounts, ii) Last three transactions
  • Future enhancements: i) Pay others – BSP to BSP (instant), ii) Pay others – BSP to other Banks (overnight)
  • Bill Pay
  • Alerts (Pay deposits, daily balance etc.)
  • Free registration and outbound SMS. Inbound SMS will be charged by the Carrier
  • BSP’s Internet Banking has been completely rewritten to work on Web enabled Mobile Phones
  • No phone specific software required just a mobile browser
  • Very small packet size to increase speed & lower cost of delivery
  • Automatic registration with Internet Banking
  • Options available NOW: i) Balance enquiry on all linked accounts, ii) Transfers between linked accounts, iii) Transaction history, vi) Bill Pay (in branch registration), v) Capability to relay menu choices via wave file (phone will talk to you)
  • Future enhancements: i) Share 2FA security with Internet Banking, ii) Integration with Internet Banking, iii) Pay others – BSP to BSP (instant) – in branch registration, vi) Pay others – BSP to other Banks (overnight) – in branch registration
  • Reliant on implementation of GPRS for use on web enabled Mobile Phones
  • Perfect solution for customers on dial up Internet (IB-Lite)


Update 20/03/09

Alex has provided a PDF here which you might find interesting titled, ‘Mobile Banking in Developing Countries [the ‘Majority World’]: Secure Framework for Delivery of SMS Banking Services

9 thoughts on “Mobile Money Summit 03

  1. Good morning Emmanuel, The sun is up this morning…Has for this sms banking, It just a way to make more money there. its good in town area only. So can u fine out more on “pro and cons” and how much for send a sms cost? thats were the money is. have a nice day…:-)


    ps Got a thesis paper on the Sms Banking in developing countries, if u want can send to u

  2. I like the way you think, sir.

    I’d also like to point your readers to:

    Absolutely on the right path, bro. Create the largest financial institutions by focusing on the people ignored.

    Our societies need to be shaken up like that. The poor get shafted all the way along. Now, it’s time for the technology to level the playing field.

    Upcoming posts on Financing ICT Business in Majority World countries.

  3. @Alex:
    When its all running on my mobile I’ll have a better idea of pro’s and cons, but in terms of costs. Messages from your mobile to the bank will be the normal SMS rate on whichever mobile service you’re on and Messages coming back to you from the Bank will be free. So at this stage BSP has advised me that there will be no costs involved.

    However there will most likely be charges for transfers of cash from BSP account to BSP account, but rates for that have not been determined yet.

    Also thanks for the PDF, I’ve put it up in the post for people to have a read.

    Thanks for your link, very informative. Indeed the applications and potential is enormous, what I like about the above service is that it is being pushed by the Bank itself which means that it’s not dependent on which mobile phone company you’re with. So ultimately more people should benefit from it.

    In my chats with BSP today, they mentioned an example of how a parent who is also involved in the pilot test, who has children in boarding school in Australia. The kids have a BSP Visa Debit Card, so when they need urgent cash (which sometimes happens allot from memory), the parent just uses his mobile to send his kids the money.

    Of course that’s just one of a plethora of uses that will begin to become apparent as more people begin to use the service.

    (Looking forward to your posts on financing ICT businesses in Majority World countries 🙂 )

  4. Im just a little confused here : why would they launch a product that requires GPRS/WAP to run the application? There would be less then 10% of all phones users in PNG that have handsets that have the capabilities of GPRS/WAP. Now not only handsets but coverage? Digicel has approx 10 cities that cater for GPRS – Wouldnt you just create a simple SMS application – where it notifies you of Account Balance – and when Money is deposited into your account. This should be the first step – it will cater for 100% of all Mobile phone users. As you progress and people are getting used to the service (2 years) then you launch the app as mobile phone standards would all have GPRS capabilities – and the data rates would be cheaper.. I did not see any information from BSB on the costs of using the app on GPRS/WAP??? And if BSB were smart in this area – they would at least do some data revenue share with the telcos and sms revenue.

    Like alot of companies you need to walk before you run ….

  5. Hi Wesley, this service is SMS based, so as you mentioned it is just a simple text message that shows you your balance etc.

    I was shown a demo at their office, but once I’m all setup I’ll do a video of the service in action so you can better see what they are doing.

    They do have a stripped down website for GPRS/WAP phones, but that’s just an option you can use which is basically their internet banking service which is already available. But that URL also has not been released yet.

    As for their costs, they have not finalised this yet.

  6. Hey E,

    I downloaded the presentations from this post as well as the Mobile Money ’02 post. Really informative. If readers have not checked them out, they definitely should… give you a good idea of where mobile-banking stands in the Pacific.

    Reaching out to the ‘unbankable’ is really about unlocking the hidden potential of our nations.

    I’m thinking of dedicating a whole category to mCommerce, hopefully highlight developments in the sector. PNG is definitely out front and that’s a good thing for all islanders, because implementing ‘best practices’ is much easier when you have a S. Pacific example to follow.

    Please keep me posted on developments in the sector.



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