MADISON, Wis. (1/11/11)--Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates gave kudos in his personal blog to World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) for its efforts in helping to bring financial services via mobile phones to poor African countries. “When I visited Kenya last December I had a chance to observe M-PESA, which is a mobile money service that is being used by more than 13 million people for storing and transferring money,” Gates wrote. “Services like M-PESA are exciting because financial services of any kind have been available to only 10% of the 2.5 billion people who live on less than $2 per day.” Gates said he took part in a panel discussion, which included WOCCU, about the kinds of partnerships that can deliver financial services to every household in developing countries. “I was … struck by how Brian Branch, [chief operating officer of WOCCU], recognized that scale is a problem for the smaller community-based banks he represents, but also an opportunity,” Gates wrote. “They are seeking ways to band together to find common technology solutions and partner with bigger players with national payment platforms such as Safaricom. This way they can remain true to the interests of the local communities they serve, offering more services at a lower cost. “Technology can be a major force to advance financial inclusion, which can help improve the lives of the poor in the developing world,” Gates added. “This is an important focus of the foundation’s efforts. At the Global Savings Forum, we pledged $500 million over five years to help create access to savings accounts that will help increase the financial security of the world’s poorest. “I’m personally very excited about these efforts, which have the potential to replicate in other key markets,” he concluded. To read Gates’ blog, use the link.