Monday, November 10, 2008

UAE banking goes mobile

Mashreq Bank (UAE) announced that they are now offering mobile banking solutions to their 6 million customers via sms and encrypted security channels. Their software service provider of choice is Postilion, a NASDAQ listed company with superior technology. Mashreq aims to become one of the leading advanced service providers in the region.

With the way in which mobile banking is picking up, the most successful models have thus far been deployed in financially conscious locations such as the US, Europe, South Korea and the likes. Platforms offering extensive financial services will be realistic for emerging economies such as Pakistan when the country becomes more bank-savvy. Currently, the banking sector offers limited services, with internet banking being the most advanced service where account owners can pay utility bills while sitting in their living room.

Some services were rumored to start, but that has yet to take shape as the State Bank is still trying to figure out how to control this environment. With the vast corruption in Pakistan's economy, it is difficult to say how quickly mobile banking type models will become successful. To do so, it is evident that a significant amount of investment from strong supporters of platforms will be required. Lobbying these matters will be the next most important angle, but that is something defined by the size of the envelope and unfortunately Pakistan has yet to clean up it's accountability systems before allowing third-party service providers to offer flexible mobile-based financial systems.

Regulation of new technology is essential and to do so the industry needs to establish a significant amount of confidence that it will not pack up shortly after launching their service. So far only one such business launched, which was later shut down due to irregularities in licensing. 
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