I would like to welcome you to the Digital Financial Services for Development blog. I started this blog to help the development community, donor organizations, governments, regulators, mobile network operators, bankers, 3rd party mobile money operators, payment operators and others to share experiences and observations about the ways in which mobile money can be used and expanded around the world.
My name is John Owens and I am a lawyer, a development specialist, and a senior advisor on financial inclusion and access to finance, and an active digital financial strategist. I started working on use cases for digital financial services while I managed and directed the USAID-supported Microenterprise Access to Banking Services (MABS) program for Chemonics International.
In late 2004, our team developed a service that would allow clients of rural banks to pay their loans back via mobile money in a product we called Text-A-Payment which rode on the GCASH Mobile Money platform developed by Globe Telecom and its subsidiary G-Xchange Inc.
After several months of experimenting how to use mobile money to support greater financial inclusion, I quickly realized the power and potential of mobile money and this small pilot expanded in ways that I never dreamed possible. See the video Distant Access to learn more about this exciting initiative.
From the start of this adventure back in 2004, I have been fortunate to interact, meet and visit with those involved in developing and supporting mobile money, now referred to as digital financial services from around the world. After these experiences and my over 25 years working on financial inclusion in the developing world, I have learned quite a bit about what will help to make mobile money and now more broadly – digital financial services services – successful.
From 2012 until the end of 2013, I had been tasked by Chemonics International to look at ways to better incorporate mobile money and mobile payments into development projects from around the world. Based on my learnings, my unique position to interact with multiple players and being an active mobile money user myself, I was encouraged by friends and colleagues to set up this blog. In mid-2013, I joined the Alliance of Financial Inclusion (AFI) as a consultant and by the beginning of 2014, I took up the full time position with AFI as their Senior Advisor on Digital Financial Services and Financial Inclusion Policies. The views on this blog are my own and don’t necessarily represent Chemonics International’s or AFI’s positions, strategies, or opinions.