Obopay CEO Carol Realini Speaks at Gates Foundation Global Savings Forum

Suggests An Open Collaborative Model to promote inclusive growth, empower the poor and deliver financial services to those underserved by banks

Nov 17, 2010, 08:40 ET from Obopay, Inc.

REDWOOD CITY, Calif., Nov. 17, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Carol Realini, CEO and founder of Obopay, Inc., a pioneer in mobile payments, will today address the 2010 Global Savings Forum, an invitation only meeting sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation being held in Seattle, WA.  Realini will be part of a panel on "New Partnerships for Technology-Enabled Financial Inclusion," which will discuss efforts to accelerate endeavors to create global financial inclusion.  

In addition to Realini, other members of her panel will include  Bill Gates, Co-chair and Trustee, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Brian Branch, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, World Council of Credit Unions; Michael Joseph, Chief Executive Officer, Safaricom Limited; James Mwangi, Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Equity Bank; Amol Patel, Head of Emerging Markets, PayPal Mobile; Roy Sosa, Founder and Chairman, MPOWER Ventures; Founder and Chief Executive Officer, MPOWER Labs and Mark Staehle, Chief of Party and Director, Save UP Initiative, Access Africa, CARE.

"Our quest at Obopay is to use the ubiquity of mobile phones to deliver financial services to those who have traditionally been underserved," said Realini.  "To achieve this goal, collaboration is the key.  An open, trusted, scalable and interoperable model is essential to maximize reach and deliver the broad range of financial service offerings.  Such a model empowers life and work by making financial services more accessible and affordable while providing a full range of offerings that are user focused even in the most challenging market scenarios."

The Global Savings Forum is the first event to join leaders from around the world to discuss how to provide the world's poor with access to financial services, especially savings.  Through collaboration and building partnerships, the forum aims to identify new, viable approaches to deliver savings and other financial tools that meet the needs of the poor.  Savings accounts are in great demand by the poor in the developing world. Research shows that when they are offered side by side with loans, people choose savings over loans at rates of up to 12:1. In one study, Malawian farmers who were given the option to put aside some of their earnings toward the next planting season increased their farming inputs by 64 percent, resulting in 54 percent higher farm revenues, and 30 percent higher day-to-day expenditures.

"Partnerships need to be put in place and agent networks established which open up new channels of distribution to be reach people where they live and work, and connect to the traditional banking and payment infrastructure," said Realini.  "Financial solutions are not silos; much like the Internet or the phone network, their value increases exponentially with the number of participants and contributors.  Agent networks are critical to reach the underserved just like traditional connections are key to the participation of the traditionally served community."

It was while she was performing volunteer work in Africa that Realini observed an interesting phenomenon – people living in some of the most remote corners of the world carried a mobile phone even if they didn't carry a wallet.  Combining the two seemed like an ideal marriage of empowerment and convenience and from this the vision for Obopay was born.

In August, Realini was the keynote speaker at the U.S.  State Department's conference on mobile payments.  There she spoke with state department employees about the potential for mobile and how the explosion of mobile phones can enable a technological leapfrog in banking that doesn't require a physical infrastructure, which is particularly advantageous in largely unbanked areas of the world such as Africa and Asia.

For more information about Realini's views on the subject of financial inclusion, visit her blog on the Obopay web site at http://blog.obopay.com/.  For more information about the Global Savings Forum, visit www.gatesfoundation.org/press-room/Pages/news-market.aspx.

About Obopay

Founded in 2005, Obopay, Inc., offers mobile money services that transform any mobile phone into a convenient and easy way to send and receive money, get paid or pay small businesses, top-up accounts, buy via mobile and pay bills.   Obopay's mobile money services address the needs of consumers and businesses around the world by providing a service that delivers value, empowers lives and improves opportunity for merchants.  Obopay believes the power is in the network and has established partnerships that include Nokia, MasterCard, AT&T, Verizon, Essar, Yes Bank in India, Blackberry and Societe Generale.  The company's offering enables partner-branded mobile money services that financial services and mobile partners can implement quickly at low deployment cost.  Global headquarters are in Redwood City, CA with operations in India.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives.  In developing countries, it focuses on improving people's health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty.  In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life.  Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.  Learn more at www.gatesfoundation.org or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

More Information about Obopay:

Web site: www.obopay.com

Blog: blog.obopay.com

Twitter: twitter.com/Obopay

SOURCE Obopay, Inc.