M-ATM: Mobile ATMs for Developing Countries (Jan’08 to Dec’12)

Purpose: To perform research development and prototype development of the mobile ATM system.

Donor: The Swedish Programme for ICT in Developing Regions (SPIDER)

Project Value: 390,252 (Swedish Krona)

Funds Received: 6,611,463.00 (Rs)

Remark:  100% complete; Deployment will continue till March 2012 thereafter commercialize the system at SANASA Bank

At present, remote villages and cities in Sri Lanka do not have ATM facilities and people must travel to larger cities in order to withdraw money. This discourages rural people to deposit their earnings to banks and thus affects the rural economy. GSM networks specially provide their services to remote cities and villages in Sri Lanka. Since fixed telephone lines are not available in these areas, most of the rural people use mobile phones. Based on that technology in this project, we developed an innovative application, called Mobile ATM (M-ATM), which provides standard ATM functions based on the GSM network and mobile phones. This will help more than four million mobile uses in Sri Lanka to handle money in their bank accounts and encourage people to save their earnings in a bank.

Three key components in the MATM system are a bank, bank agent and a customer. Bank agent is registered and certified by the bank. A customer has an account with the bank. Both, bank agent and a customer have mobile phones, suitably modified to perform functions of the M–ATM in a secure way. The bank has M–ATM server as the front–end, connected to the bank’s back–end financial system.

In order to perform a transaction, a customer with a mobile phone comes to the bank agent with a mobile phone. The customer sends SMS to the bank requesting the money, together with his/her PIN and bank agent’s mobile number. The bank verifies both and sends confirmations simultaneously to the bank agent and a customer. The bank agent gets an approval, comprising transaction number (a random number) and the customer gets a confirmation number (a random number). The customer tells the confirmation number to the bank agent. The bank agent sends the transaction and confirmation numbers back to the bank. When the bank receives the confirmation by its agent, money will be deducted from the customer’s account and credited to the agents’ account. Finally, bank agent pays the money to the customer, who confirms the receipt and in that way completes the transaction.

This approach is all based on using Mobile Phones as financial transaction terminals. It does not need special devices and ATM cards. Anybody who has a phone can participate in the system.

Project Investigator: Dr. T N K De Zoysa

Research Adviser: Dr. C I Keppitiyagama

Research Assistant: Mr. P K M Thilakaratne (1/7 – 31/12; 1/1/12-31/12/12); Mr. N.M.L. Laxaman


  1. Amila Karunanayake, Kasun De Zoysa, Sead Muftic, Mobile ATM for Developing Countries, The 3rd ACM International Workshop on Mobility in the Evolving Internet Architecture, Seattle, WA, USA, 2008.
  2. Amila Karunanayake, Kausn De Zoysa, Sead Muftic, Feng Zhang, “Experiences on Mobile-ATM Deployment in a Developing Country”, 1st International Conference on Mobile Communication for Development(M4D), Karlstad University, Sweden, 11–12 Dec, 2008.
  3. Samarasinghe K, Laxaman N.M.L, Munasinghe A, Lokuge I, De Zoysa T N K, An Extensible Mobile Commerce Infrastructure for Sri Lanka: A Deployment Approach, 27th National Information Technology Conference, The Computer Society of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka, 9-10 Sept 2009.