Branchless banking is a hot trend among financial institutions, as consumers are transitioning away from brick-and-mortar outlets and towards online and mobile usage. But according to Malek Mroueh, senior director, regional development Asia, Middle East, and Africa at TSYS, branchless banking holds huge potential for the underbanked as well. PYMNTs.com spoke with Mroueh to discuss his recent “Branchless Banking” white paper, and to learn about different branchless models.
“The basic premise of a branchless banking environment is we provision the banking services to those who are normally out of reach of the mainstream banking community,” Mroueh said. “So, in principal, the idea is to give the users access to services and facilities they’d normally enjoy from a classical bank account, but have those services accessible to them without the need of brick-and-mortar branches.”
Mroueh went on to describe how the branchless banking approach has led to a “connected underbanked” demographic consisting of those who own smartphones but do not have bank accounts. While branchless banking is often thought of a trend in developed markets, Mroueh made it clear that the proliferation of smartphones gives the branchless model the potential to change the lives of those in developing markets, too.
This impact can be seen in the Middle Eastern, African and Asian regions which Mroueh oversees.
“The reason we started in these countries, with the possible exception of the Gulf states, which are very wealthy, encompass a significantly large population that has never been banked, and in addition to that, the lack of infrastructure in many of these countries also means there are very many rural communities that have no financial services available to them,” Mroueh said.
“So, it just lends itself rather beautifully to the whole branchless banking model because they all have a very high mobile phone penetration.”
To hear more Mroueh on branchless banking and underbanked innovation, listen to the full podcast below.
*If you have trouble with the audio player above, click here.
Malek Mroueh holds a Master of Engineering in Microelectronics and has more than 20 years’ experience working in the cards and payments industry. He has an in-depth knowledge of global payment landscapes, the requirements of financial inclusion and the benefits of branchless banking. Mr Mroueh has worked in several fields within the payments industry including payment solution design, payment cards consulting and has extensive knowledge of digital payment channels. Today, Mr Mroueh is Senior Director, Regional Development Asia, Middle East and Africa.