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Best Practice for Implementing Mobile Finance in Low-Income Communities

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The proliferation of mobile phones across the world has enabled financial institutions to take advantage and introduce services accessible through mobile handsets. A scoping study has explored the challenges of implementing mobile-finance in low-income communities and also evaluated secondary data from online discussion and webinars.


The study was done by two researchers at the University of Machester and raises very interesting questions into the application of mobile finance for low income countries. The following questions are answered in the paper:-

  • What are the potential benefits of m-finance to low-income communities?  [Section B]
  • Why is there a lack of evidence showing the benefits of m-finance?  [Section B]
  • What are the three primary concerns which were identified by the donors and development practitioners in the online discussions?  [Section D1]
  • What are the four approaches put forward by the donors and development practitioners on how to tackle knowledge and financial literacy challenges?  [Section D1]

Paper Abstract 

Growth in access and affordability of mobile phones across the world has enabled financial services to be delivered digitally through handsets, referred to as mobile-finance. Despite large investments into mobile-finance in developing countries there has been a lack of active uptake among the poor. In this paper, the challenges of implementing mobile-finance in low-income communities are explored through literature review and analysis of secondary data from online discussions and webinars held by donor organisations.

Best practices of donor organisations are synthesised with the challenges faced by low-income communities and consideration is given as to whether there are misalignments between donor policies and the needs of the poor.  The findings identify challenges that can be partly addressed by the poor themselves, pertaining to trust, social norms and financial literacy, as well as donor best practices to counter those challenges, relating to financial education and the effective operation of agent networks. Other challenges, that cannot be addressed directly by the poor, are identified relating to competition policy and regulatory action to counter weak infrastructure and affordability.

Based on the identification of misalignments between donor policies and the needs of the poor, recommendations are made concerning transparency in relation to the benefits and risks of mobile-finance, addressing unequal power relations between providers and users of mobile-finance services, the enactment of bottom-up participative approaches to implementation, and proper consideration of local contexts in order that the poor are not seen as a homogeneous group.

Download the full paper here 

Martin, R and Duncombe,R .2017. Best Practice for Implementing Mobile Finance in low-Income Communities. Manchester : Global Development Institute

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