In developing countries, mobile money solutions are gaining momentum as an alternative to dealing with banks. Communication happens differently also: in countries like Uganda, Facebook is more than a social site – it’s a vital communications hub offered as a free service via companies like Orange Telecom. Top find out more about mobile microfinance, we tracked down Sam Brawerman of PHB Development (based in Liege, Belgium). Dennis got him on camera during an outdoor break at the Mobile World Congress 2013 in Barcelona.

Sam explains that Orange’s approach in Uganda has been driven by the need to serve that population differently. The transaction amounts there are very different, the people don’t have IDs and they live in rural areas – all unique challenges to setting up a mobile money solution. Because most Ugandans don’t have bank accounts, the population has grown to trust telcos, which employ agents to sign up subscribers over the phone.

Orange gained the people’s trust by ensuring that services like deposits and withdrawals – not new smartphone bells and whistles — were reliable and secure. The result? 30,000 subscribers in a month, says Sam. The end result are mobile banking trends that in some cases have outpaced mobile banking in the western world.
Show Notes

:43 PHB’s mobile money solution offered through Orange Telecom

1:52 Most Ugandans don’t have bank accounts; they trust telcos instead

2:33 Smartphone-equipped agents sign up subscribers; accounts activate in about a day

3:31 Orange positioned itself as reliable and secure – and got 30,000 subscribers in a month

4:27 Socially networked Ugandans rely on Facebook for communications, because it is free on Orange

Disclosure: SAP paid Jon’s travel and accommodations as well as Dennis’ accommodations at MWC 13.