The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the wireless trade group GSM Association are trying to deliver financial services to the unbanked through phones.

The two groups jointly announced Tuesday a Mobile Money for the Unbanked program funded by a $12.5 million grant from the foundation.

The program is to support regulatory and market research into business cases for mobile banking services and support 20 projects in developing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The projects could deliver financial services to 20 million unbanked people by 2012.

"Technology, like mobile phones, is making it possible to bring low-cost, high-quality financial services to millions of people in the developing world," Bob Christen, director of the Gates foundation's Financial Services for the Poor initiative, said in a press release.

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