World's Cheapest Mobile Phone Aimed At Developing Countries
18 February 2010 at 11:36 am
Multinational telecommunications giant Vodafone has announced the release of what it claims is the lowest cost mobile phone on earth.
The ultra low cost handsets are aimed at the developing world, where mobile phones are being increasingly used as important tools for banking and accessing mobile health services. According to Vodafone, more than 11 million of their customers now rely on their mobile phones for money transfers and bill payments.
The mobile phone, the Vodafone 150, will retail unsubsidised at below $US15.
Patrick Chomet, Vodofone’s Group Director of Terminals, says the cost of mobile handsets is one of the most significant barriers for people in accessing and benefiting from the growing number of socially valuable mobile services.
The phone will launch in India and Turkey, and eight African nations – The Democratic Republic of Conga, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Qatar, South Africa and Tunisia – areas where Vodafone says its sees the most potential of the mobile phone as a social enabler.
The launch aims to reach people in deep rural areas where mobile usage is typically low. In India, Vodafone expects that mobile handsets will reach 60% of the population.
Vodafone has also announced they are bringing a system known as M-PESA, one of the world’s most successful mobile money transfer services, to South Africa. M-PESA enables mobile phone subscribers who don’t have access to a bank account to send and receive money via their mobile phone.
Cenk Serdar, Director of Mobile Payments at Vodafone Group in South Africa, says that only 60% of South Africans have a bank account in the formal sector, however mobile use amongst the adult population is more than 94%.
Serdar says that mobile technology in Africa has already improved the lives of millions simply by allowing them to communicate beyond their immediate surrounding. It is set to transform the way people send and receive cash. He said the successful take-up of M-PESA in Kenya has demonstrated the demand for easily accessible, secure payment services in emerging markets.