Can Mobile Money really help women access financial banking? Saudi Arabia says yes!

By JUDY PERPOSE, Financial Times

BOSTON, Mass. (Financial Times) — Efforts to increase global access to financial services were under heavy debate at the Economic and Financial Committee (ECOFIN).

Saudi Arabia called their Vision 2030 project, implemented in 2016, a “national success” by providing women with access to financial services up by 46 percent since implementation, increasing financial stability.

However, some nations were skeptical of Saudi Arabia’s claim, pointing to the fact that women require permission from a man in order to open a bank account.

Talks at committee discussed the implementation of Mobile Money as a viable option to increase access to financial banking for women. This technology allows cell phone carriers to send money via text message without the need for apps or internet.

Saudi Arabia claims to have 188 mobile phones per person and called for committee members to implement government-run “Mobile Money” programs to promote “a thriving economy and a vibrant society.”

Canada was also supportive of opening discussions on targeting efforts to increase access to financial services for women. However, the committee failed to pass Canada’s motion to extend discussions on the issue.

With the Mobile Money program succeeding in Kenya, India and Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Arabian government urged the committee to re-open debate, saying it is committed to continue working with committee members.

The debate will continue throughout the weekend and there are high hopes in the area to better incorporate technology and further investments in innovation.

Many hope such a proposition may open debate on other forms of technology different from Mobile Money. However, the question remains: how effective will they be and will they be accepted by member states?

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