1.8b bank accounts vs 5b mobile connections

Joseph Waring
01 Mar 2012

Mobile payments may be rising 95% annually, "but the shocking part is how little change is actually tacking place," said Citi CTO and COO Don Callahan.

Speaking yesterday at a session on "Financial Services in a Mobile World" at the MWC in Barcelona, Callahan said of the world's seven billion people, more than five billion have mobile phones, but there are just 1.8 billion bank accounts."

"How can that be? That tells you we aren't doing something right and we need to figure that out," he said.

Some 85% of payments globally are done in cash today. "Why is this? Why can't we get that to be straight through processing and make it so people don't have to stand in line and they can securely move that information family to family without worrying about a thief or someone skimming as you go along the lines."

He said that it's clear we haven't found the right business models to take mobile financial services to the next level.

"Perhaps this is the year when mobile financial services really take off. We have to figure out what are the friction points preventing us from making people's lives easier."

Peter Drucker said that a new technology to replace an old technology has to be ten times better. "In mobile we've seen it being ten times better, "but in [mobile] payments we haven't. So across the industries we have a lot of work to do to make it ten times better."

Regarding empowering the consumer, Callahan insisted it's clear that Citi doesn't have the chance to set the rules as the consumers are setting the rules "so we're going to have to listen and respond quickly."

He mentioned a study Citi did with McKinsey on global payments that found that converting 1% of cash into digital money can lead to a revenue contribution of $30 billion.


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