Japanese telecom firm KDDI Corporation will invest $22m in US financial service provider Microfinance International Corporation (MFIC) with the aim to develop an open mobile payment platform worldwide.

Microfinance International, which specializes in providing financial services to underserved communities, will use the funds to develop a global, open-source platform which will let mobile operators offer financial services to their customers.

As the first step of collaboration, in January 2011 Locus Telecommunications, KDDI’s subsidiary headquartered in New Jersey is launching a new service in the US, allowing customers to send money overseas using a multi-purpose calling card.

KDDI president Takashi Tanaka said he is very excited and looking forward to the collaboration with MFIC who has extensive financial expertise, bringing both the firms a chance for true global business development.

MFIC president and CEO Atsumasa Tochisako said he is grateful for KDDI’s confidence in MFIC and its commitment to the development of new global infrastructure.

"Mobile money brings paradigm shift in the financial sector and I am excited to partner with KDDI to both be leaders in the industry," Tochisako.

According to CGAP, a microfinance group based at the World Bank, the number of those who lack a bank account but have mobile phone will reach 1.7 billion in 2012, about 70% of the entire unbanked population worldwide.