Improving financial inclusion and delivering services to the ‘unbanked’ is one of the big challenges facing the global banking industry at the moment.
In March last year, the World Bank released figures showing that two billion adults around the world have no access to formal financial services. This is a particular problem for the poor, for women and for people in rural areas.
The international financial institution said digital technologies, evolving business models and a new focus on leveraging data are providing new opportunities to boost inclusion and tackle poverty.
In an effort to drive progress in this area, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has published a new set of standards for mobile banking. ISO’s aim is to provide a foundation for this sector to continue expanding, delivering “robust and secure” banking services to more of the global population.
ISO 12812, Core banking – Mobile financial services was designed to guarantee alignment between all platforms and providers in the mobile banking space, by defining common terms, requirements for interoperability and the roles of the various parties involved.
Patrice Herzog, chair of the ISO technical subcommittee that developed the standards, pointed out that, globally, people who own mobile phones now outnumber those who have bank accounts.
“Financial access has many benefits, allowing people and businesses to plan their lives and also invest in things like education and health, and access insurance,” he added. “The World Bank has a goal of universal financial access by 2020, and these standards will help contribute to that.”
Mr Herzog also pointed out that ISO 12812 will complement other standards such as ISO 20022 for financial messaging. ISO 20022 is a universal industry messaging system that allows users to represent key processes and transactions in a syntax-independent form.