Bringing Financial Services to Base of the Pyramid Markets
Around the globe, millions lack access to financial services. Vodafone aims to provide poor communities with basic financial services through its mobile money transfer platform. In 2007, Vodafone and partner Safaricom launched a mobile money transfer and payments service, branded "M-PESA", in Kenya. The service is also available in Afghanistan, Tanzania and South Africa, and Vodafone has plans to launch in other markets within the next year.
Vodafones mobile money transfer platform allows customers to transfer money to other customers, pay bills, and buy mobile air time. As of September 2010, the service has reached 16.8 million subscribers in developing markets.
In addition to its commitment to bringing financial services to low-income consumers, Vodafone has joined pharmaceutical company Pfizer in a pilot project focused on addressing gaps in the pharmaceutical value chain using mobile phone technology.
The initiative, called "SMS for Health", uses real-time information collected via mobile phones to track medication stock levels and expiry dates to help capture information that can be used to predict the seasonal variation in the rates of disease in particular regions. The project, which is currently being piloted in The Gambia, covers 50 health clinics as well as the central and regional medical stores throughout the country and at five major hospitals.
Pharmacists, health care providers, and store managers have been trained to use a simple coding system which allows them to text the stock levels for 20 medications including expiry dates and disease event rates for 10 diseases to a central database. The data will help the Ministry of Health and pharmaceutical companies will show where improvements in the Gambian supply chain are needed so that medicines reach more patients in a timely manner.
Based on the early success of the pilot project, Pfizer and Vodafone anticipate that they could begin expanding access to SMS for Health in other African markets over the next five years.