I love being a staff writer for 3BL Media/Justmeans on topics - Social Innovation, Social Enterprise and Social Entrepreneurs. When I am not writing for 3BL Media/Justmeans, I wear my other hat as owner of Serendipity PR. Over the years I have worked with high-profile, big, powerful brands and organisations within the public, not-for-profit and corporate sectors; and won awards from my industry....
Social Enterprise: Sending Money is now as Simple as Sending A Text
There's a new social enterprise financial service in the U.S. that allows immigrant communities from Mexico and Haiti to send money overseas to help their family and friends back home. It is called m-Via. Its premise is that about half of the U.S.'s immigrant population do not have bank accounts. Therefore, it provides this section of society with a better financial service that eliminates the need for traditional cash services.
Consumers now have access to the kind of social enterprise banking and money transfer service they have wanted for years. It is safe, economical and easy; sending money is now as simple as sending a text! Bill Barhydt, founder and CEO of m-Via says, "Our core consumer is a hard-working immigrant who sends money home to support their extended family. They are the last person who should be forced to pay exorbitant fees for money transfer services. Our services address these problems by leveraging new mobile and banking technologies, combined with a consumer experience that is simple, secure and even fun."
Each year, millions of migrant workers transfer hundreds of billions of dollars globally, often paying more than $20 per cash wire transaction, with recipients having to travel for hours to pick up the remitted funds. Plus, small dollar amount wire transfers of less than $50 are not cost effective due to high fees, while larger wire transfers can cost up to $75. Cash wire services are often in unsafe neighbourhoods, where theft can be common for both the sender and recipient, making the process risky. There are many emerging companies around the world that bring social enterprise and banking to the poor via mobile phones; M-Pensa in Kenya is probably the best known internationally. It enables people to send funds via phone both within the country and to neighbouring Uganda and Tanzania.
M-Via works by someone in the U.S. joining its associated banking service, called Boom for $10, after which they can then go into any of 15,000 locations which includes many 7-Eleven store, and the money is deposited into their account. The money can then be sent via text message to a Smartphone in Mexico, where the person is instructed how to set up their own account to easily access the funds. This social enterprise process suddenly changes people's ability to have cash in Mexico, as rural areas here do not have many ATMs.
Empowering the poor financially through technology is becoming a lucrative business. The Internet makes it easy, allowing companies like m-Via to challenge traditional banking methods: allowing these services to become more of a social enterprise and removing the restrictions that have been arbitrarily imposed on the poor. Mobile phones are becoming the most successful used technology in history, effectively reaching more people than computers, becoming integral to our lives. Very soon, I am sure they will begin to take over the real thing - money.
Photo Credit: nswlearnscope