The Haiti Mobile Money Initiative/HIFIVE Announces Second Mobile Operator to Compete for “First to Market” Mobile Money Award

Digicel, mobile operator in the Caribbean, Central America and the Pacific, delivered its “Letter of Intent to Compete” on Monday, September 30th, at USAID-funded project, HIFIVE (Haiti Integrated Finance for Value Chains and Enterprises), becoming the second official competitor in the Haiti Mobile Money Initiative after Voilà.

{FILE IMAGE: Maarten Boute} Digicel files its intention to compete for the $2.5 million “First to Market” Award offered by the Haiti Mobile Money Initiative

Digicel Haiti CEO, Maarten Boute, said; “With only 10% of the population having used a commercial bank pre-earthquake (according to USAID), the mobile money concept is guaranteed to take off in Haiti where mobile penetration stands at over 35% – up from a low 5% before Digicel’s launch in 2006.”

Mr. Boute added; “As Haiti’s largest mobile provider with 2.4 million customers and largest foreign direct investor, Digicel is uniquely positioned to be the first mobile operator to roll out mobile money services in Haiti. Building on its existing experience of providing such services in Fiji, our customers will be able to access safer, more affordable alternatives, which will reduce the costs of financial transactions, help increase savings and generate employment.”

Mr. Claude Clodomir, Deputy Director for USAID-funded project HIFIVE declared; “We are quite pleased with the competitive atmosphere generated from the incentive funds under this initiative, as competition fosters innovation, and from there, excellence arises. The Haitian consumer will no doubt enjoy a variety of interesting products and Haiti will hold an exceptional place in the world of utilization of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools.

The success of mobile money services in Haiti depends on close cooperation between mobile network operators, the banks, as well as regulatory institutions such as the Central Bank and CONATEL. We congratulate the participation of partnering commercial banks such as UNIBANK and SCOTIABANK and we invite other eligible institutions to enter the race.”

The Haiti Mobile Money Initiative gives cash awards to companies that offer mobile money services in Haiti. The first company to launch a mobile money service that meets certain criteria before December 10, will receive the $2.5 million “First to Market” award. The second operator to launch and achieve these criteria within 12 months will receive $1.5 million.

In total, 10 million dollars of cash prizes will be awarded to incent the launch of mobile money services in Haiti thanks to the Haiti Mobile Money Initiative, a partnership between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID. HIFIVE, a project funded by USAID, is a financial sector service project designed to encourage a dynamic Haitian economy by increasing the availability of financial products and services to its people and to its enterprises. A catalyst and a facilitator, HIFIVE works primarily on the supply side of the financial sector to empower Haitians by providing access to innovative financial products and services with a focus on rural areas, targeting high potential value chains and supporting the use of technology.

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