Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Reflections on Mobile Money

Jake Kendall, a program officer in the Financial Services for the Poor initiative at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation keeps his attention on innovations in financial inclusion.  

A year or two ago, had you polled the financial inclusion field and asked whether they thought that a person to person money transfer service (like M-PESA) would have a significant welfare benefit for poor households, on par with credit, savings or insurance, the majority would have said “no"....
If you asked the same question today, many whom I have spoken to would now say that improving the poor’s access to money transfer is impactful, and might even be as impactful as many of the existing savings, credit, and insurance options available from the microfinance sector.  (read the whole post).

He's thinking about how innovation happens, too:
Networks are powerful tools. In the past, the emergence of canals, railroads, electricity, telecommunications and the Internet provided new ways of moving people, goods, energy or information, with transformational effects on business models and the economy. One of the more powerful aspects of networks is that they often form platforms that catalyze interactions between parties that might never have come together otherwise, sometimes creating new markets in the process (read the whole post).

Kendall and his coauther conclude that 1) it is only a matter of time before many if not most poor households are using the platform to access financial services, and 2) that significant challenges remain to increasing the number and variety of services available over the mobile money platform, and in particular to connecting to the poor.

After all, as he puts it elsewhere, "Poor people’s need for domestic payments is often large, whether it is spurred by migrant labor remittances, informal support networks of friends and family, government welfare payments, or utility payments" (read the whole post). 

Recently, Kendall has been writing about new ways  to track financial access, using information about geographic distribution of bank branches, ATMs, CICO agents, and other financial access points relative to the spatial distribution of population.  The maps that they can make with this new method are really something (read the whole post).

Keep your eye on Kendall and associates to learn about new trends in the world of financial inclusion and check out this talk he gave on  payment behavior and innovative opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa (watch the talk).  

Monday, May 21, 2012

Funny Money Roundup 4: On Wall Street, the Great Recession, and the Occupy Movements, Part 2

Since my last link roundup on the Occupy movements (read Part 1 here), friends of IMTFI and readers of the IMTFI blog have brought many more to my attention. In this version of the Funny Money Roundup, I’ll revisit Occupy before offering some links from our archive on the Great Recession, Wall Street, and finance. As always, this collection is anything but comprehensive or complete; if you’ve come across a link you think we, or our readers, might find interesting, send it to Taylor Nelms at tnelms@uci.edu.

Monday, May 14, 2012

IMTFI and the British Museum

Money boxes at the British Museum, including some from IMTFI researchers
Over at the British Museum blog, there's a behind-the-scenes blog post about the upcoming exhibit in their money gallery. Among a wide variety of money-related objects (money in museums isn't just old coins any more!), the exhibit will also feature objects contributed by IMTFI researchers, like some of the money boxes in the photo above.