The Big Idea: (UPDATED) Simple Truths About Mobile Money via NextBillion.net

Check out NextBillion.net’s latest blog post:

The Big Idea: (UPDATED) Simple Truths About Mobile Money.

Financial Inclusion is development-speak for access to banking services for the poor. Some people in development– banks?– think we need to reach the poor and “unbanked“.

That would be 2.7 billion unbanked people in world. The premise is that even if, or perhaps especially if, you have very little money and/or you live in the countryside, your money is safer at the bank.

One way to deliver financial services, when you have no brick and mortar bank,  is through cell phones. Mobile technologies have created a wealth of opportunities (pun intended) for global development.

CGAP, the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, would be one such organization bringing financial inclusion to the world’s poor with mobile phones.

A number of factors jump to mind, however. To point out the obvious, the poorest live hand to mouth and do not have cash to “spare” for a bank account. And not everybody has a cell phone. Also, there are fees for mobile services, like making a payment, and, presumably, fees for using the phone. So how do mobile money programs work in practice?

Here are some questions that “The Big Idea” article (link above) addresses:

  • If we are using mobile phones, does participation in these programs become a question of the digital  “haves” and the “have nots”?
  • Are mobile banking programs reaching reaching the poorest populations?
  • How is mobile banking a solution for poverty?

These are questions that I would like to research further. If you work in these areas, please chime in!

What are your thoughts about bringing “mobile money” to the poor?

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