Gates pledge $512m to bank the unbanked poor

Last June the Gates Foundation announced a $10 million investment in mobile banking in Haiti. They've clearly decided that they're onto a good thing, because they've just pledged $512 million to help the world's poorest people access financial services.

The money will be rolled out over the next five years.  Six grants have already been announced, with one going to Vodacom Tanzania's M-PESA program, with the aim of replicating the success of mobile banking in neighbouring Kenya.

A major goal is to provide ways for poor people to save money without having to to invest time and money into accessing standard banks. Mobile banking agencies are an interesting alternative, because they are easy to set up and can be much more widely distributed than bank branches.