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IFC's First Mobile Banking Investment in Latin America

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IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, says that it has invested USD3 million and helped mobilize an additional USD2 million for Panama's YellowPepper to help the company expand mobile banking and access to financial services in Latin America and the Caribbean region. It is IFC's first equity investment in a mobile banking firm in the region.

Only about one-third of the population in Latin America and Caribbean has access to formal financial services. But 80 percent have access to mobile phones, which presents a significant opportunity for extending financial services to millions of low-income customers in the region.

Created in 2004, YellowPepper currently offers services in Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Haiti and Panama, and has more than two million active users. The company is developing a clearinghouse for mobile payments, allowing mobile subscribers, retailers, billers, consumers and banks to interact on a common platform using the mobile phone. IFC's equity investment will help YellowPepper further develop its product and expand its services to new markets in the countries it serves.

"Our goal is to bring the banking system to the masses via the mobile phone," said Serge Elkiner, President and Founder of YellowPepper. "Because of the enormity of the task, we sought out an investor whose reputation and approach complement our strategy. IFC fits this profile perfectly. It is also one of the largest investors in electronic payments and mobile banking in the world, contributing invaluable insight and experience to innovations happening worldwide."

Roberto Albisetti, IFC Country Manager for Mexico and Central America, said: "In the rapidly changing world of mobile banking, YellowPepper has managed to differentiate itself from the competition and develop a business model that is unique. It allows simple and secure access to financial services for mobile phone users, facilitating commerce - particularly for the unbanked and rural populations."

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Tags: ifc  mobile banking  yellowpepper  caribbean  Panama