Ms. Roxana Baldetti of the Guatemalan Congress visits RBAP for mobile phone banking

Guatemala visit 1

A well-known member of the Congress of Guatemala, Ms. Roxana Baldetti, visited the Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines (RBAP) on June 17, 2011 to better understand how the mobile phone banking initiative through the rural banks has worked out in the Philippines, particularly in reaching out to more remote areas..

Guatemala is a country with a population of about 13.8 million – over 75 percent of which live below the poverty line. Poverty is even more severe among the rural and indigenous populations. (Source: Encyclopedia of the Nations)

Aiming to reach out to these people, Ms. Baldetti has been playing a key role in the approval of a conditional cash transfer program in Guatemala. The social benefits cash grants would be distributed electronically as mobile money by Claro Americas, with the funds to be managed by Banco de Desarrollo Rural. Ms. Baldetti shared that to promote transparency in Guatemala’s direct government cash transfer program, the information on recipients of cash aid will be accessible to anyone.

Guatemala visit 2Ms. Baldetti received a two-hour briefing on the mobile phone banking initiative for rural banks under the USAID-supported RBAP-Microenterprise Access to Banking Services (MABS) Program. She also witnessed a mobile cash transfer demonstration and viewed a video of how the GCash mobile money platform is being used in the remote town of Cantilan, Surigao del Sur through Cantilan Bank.

The USAID-supported RBAP-MABS program pioneered mobile phone banking in 2004. RBAP’s partnership with G-Xchange, Inc. (GXI) has enabled68 rural banks with over 1,000 branch units to offer mobile phone banking services to their clients. Close to PhP4.0 billion GCash transactions have passed through the rural banking system. Using mobile phone banking, rural banks and GXI are active participants in the disbursements of conditional cash transfer to the beneficiaries of the Philippine Government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

With the country’s mobile phone penetration (number of mobile phones per capita) higher than the Philippines (see CIA World Factbook), there is no doubt that Guatemala can use mobile phone banking or mobile money transfer for its cash transfer program.