Episode 120 – Deep Dive into Real-time Payments in Developing Markets – Elizabeth McQuerry, Glenbrook Partners

George Peabody

April 21, 2020

POF Podcast

In this special episode of Payments on Fire®, Glenbrook partner Elizabeth McQuerry, partner in charge of Glenbrook’s Global payments consulting practice, leads a conversation on the development and adoption of realtime payments in developing markets.

Joining Elizabeth are Miller Abel, Deputy Director, Principal Technologist at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Gene Neyer, Executive Advisor to Icon Solutions, board member at the US Faster Payments Council, who has supported Gates-funded projects in Pakistan and Tanzania.

This discussion was originally scheduled to take place at the 2020 Payments Canada Summit.

If the development of faster payment, instant funds transfer systems is important to you, take a listen to this episode on the development of these instant push payment systems in developing markets. Many of the issues and concepts discussed apply to developed market concerns and you will gain important insight into the multiple paths governments and leading tech firms take in system and ecosystem development.

Anchoring the discussion is the set of principles for financial inclusion codified in The Level One Project Guide, a work product of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

An essential principle is the role of real-time payments as an economic development tool. Digital payments have to have the immediacy of cash to be transformative. No one can afford to wait for a payment to wander for a few days through an antiquated banking system when they have to buy fuel in 20 minutes.

Digital payments also have to solve for specific use cases which quickly leads to the need for an API layer to embed payments into purpose-built apps. The discussion addresses these principles and illustrates them with examples like the agriculture-focused version Uber for tractors.

To address the necessary transaction switching and connectivity infrastructure, the Gates Foundation has built the Mojaloop platform, an open source initiative to ease development for  governments and commercial entities alike. Miller takes us through its genesis and applications.

Elizabeth, Gene, and Miller discuss the extraordinary and growing penetration of inexpensive smart and surprisingly capable feature phones in markets like Nigeria and Myanmar.

They also discuss the “stack” of rules, rails, account providers, and apps that enables innovation, a model that applies to both developed and developing markets.

This is a comprehensive discussion that touches on the roles of government and commercial stakeholders and how they differ across countries, payment economics, and the multiple paths to broad deployment of real-time payments. Take a listen.

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