The Mobile Minute: Explaining 4G Coverage, M-banking in India, and Knowing Your Mobile Rights

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Jan 27, 2011

The Mobile Minute is back to bring you the latest in mobile and development news! Today we have coverage on what 4G really means, the rise of videos on mobile devices, Vodafone's launch of m-banking services in India, a breakdown of what sort of data and research is missing in a lot of conversations about the impact of mobile devices in the developing world, and why you should password protect and encrypt your smart phone.

  • NPR has an interview with Engadget's Chris Ziegler, who explains why some 3G technologies are being marketed as 4G and how these new networks differ from traditional 3G. He also covers the benefits of market competition, hindrances to fast wireless broadband access, and why 2011 will be the year of the smartphone in the U.S..
  • The growth of video viewing on mobile devices (Poynter reports that "more than 200 million YouTube videos are viewed on mobile devices each day") has led to a huge jump in the mobile advertising market as advertisers try to reach out to new viewer, resulting in expectations of a $1 billion mobile advertising market for 2011.

Mobile Money and Mobile Health 2: Use Cases, Limitations and Ways Forward

Posted by MohiniBhavsar on Nov 10, 2010

In this two-part series, MobileActive.org explores how mobile money services can support health care in developing countries. In part one, we described the key ways in which mobile money services can be adopted by the health sector.

At the primary level of care, subscription-based mobile payment services can create two-way links between patients and health care providers, as summarized here.

  • Patients can pay service providers directly for health care services delivered.
  • Service providers can use mobile transfer platforms to reward patients with monetary or airtime incentives for treatment compliance.

At the district, regional, and national levels, governments and organizations can improve management of funds and introduce better checks and balances by using mobile money platforms. Some uses include:

Mobile Money For Health: A Two-Part MobileActive.org Series

Posted by MohiniBhavsar on Nov 08, 2010

Mobile phones are being tried and tested in myriad ways in health care. They are used for data collection and disease surveillance, for ensuring treatment compliance, for managing health information systems and point-of-care support, for health promotion and disease prevention, and for delivering emergency medical services. Clearly, m-health, as this growing field is dubbed, is here to stay.

At the same time, achieving scale and sustainability in most m-health projects has been a challenge. One of the key aspects of beginning to think about ways to integrate m-health into health systems in a sustainable way is to establish financial systems to pay for health services and to ensure financial accountability within programs.

Drop by Drop Gets the Pump: KickStart’s Mobile Layaway Service for Small-Scale Farmers

Posted by MelissaUlbricht on Oct 06, 2010
Drop by Drop Gets the Pump: KickStart’s Mobile Layaway Service for Small-Scale Farmers data sheet 6006 Views

Update: In July 2011, KickStart reached a milestone by registering its 100th mobile layaway customer. (When we last chatted with Chen, KickStart had 9 such customers.) The group is preparing to launch the service across Kenya next month.

Basic Information
Organization involved in the project?: 
Project goals: 

The goal of the KickStart mobile layaway service is to provide a safe, secure, and convenient savings mechanism for small-scale farmers to put away money for an irrigation pump.

Brief description of the project: 

The mobile layaway service allows small-scale farmers to make incremental payments over a mobile phone by leveraging M-PESA, a mobile banking platform that is popular in Kenya and elsewhere. Farmers work toward the purchase of KickStart irrigation pumps.

Target audience: 

The target audience of the KickStart mobile layaway service is small-scale famers who wish to purchase an irrigation pump but have difficulty in gathering the total purchase cost at one time. Farmers must also have access to a mobile phone and be registered M-PESA users.


Detailed Information
Length of Project (in months) : 
What worked well? : 

The mobile layaway service is successful in it’s approach: it offers a formalized service by building upon something done informally and it leverages a trusted brand that users have access to and are comfortable with.

What did not work? What were the challenges?: 

Though the USB modem and text message interface alleviates the need to administer data via a handset, the process still requires significant manual input. For the pilot, received payments come in automatically from the M-PESA admin tool, but on the back-end, an Excel spreadsheet is used to track customers and payments.

The Mobile Minute: Mobile Banking Bonanza, Worldwide ICT Growth, Native Apps on Smartphones

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Oct 05, 2010

Today's Mobile Minute is focused on mobile money. We've got news about Bharti's financial services in India, Rwanda's new mobile banking guidelines, Digicel's plan for mobile financial services in Haiti, ICT growth from 1998 to 2009, and the popularity of native apps on smartphones. 

  • Digicel, a Caribbean telecom, announced they will launch a mobile banking pilot project in Haiti, starting this October. The pilot will allow users to transfer funds and give and receive cash via mobiles.
  • ICT4Dblog charted how ICTs have grown around the world, ranking mobile, Internet, and broadband growth over an 11-year period. The site then looked at how these numbers show the digital gap between rich and poor countries, and then reported on: "digital lag: the time gap between a given average ICT penetration level in the poorest countries, and the year that was achieved in the richest countries. Current digital lag is just under 10 years for mobile, and something like 14-15 years for Internet. For broadband, it’s just over 10 years but the figures are so low that this may not be meaningful."
[Mobile Minute Disclaimer: The Mobile Minute is a quick round-up of interesting stories that have come across our RSS and Twitter feeds to keep you informed of the rapid pace of innovation. Read them and enjoy them, but know that we have not deeply investigated these news items. For more in-depth information about the ever-growing field of mobile tech for social change, check out our blog posts, white papers and research, how-tos, and case studies.]

Image courtesy Flickr user QiFei


Banking the Poor via G2P Payments

Posted by MohiniBhavsar on Aug 10, 2010
Banking the Poor via G2P Payments data sheet 2198 Views
Mark Pickens, David Porteous, Sarah Rotman
Publication Date: 
Dec 2009
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

Governments make regular payments to at least 170 million poor people worldwide—far more
than the 99 million or so who have active microloans. In this Focus Note, we look at government-to-person (G2P) payments, which include social transfers as well as wage and pension payments. With appropriate experimentation, these payments have the potential to become a vehicle for extending financial inclusion and improving the welfare of poor people. Yet in most countries, far fewer than one-quarter of G2P payments to the poor land in a financially inclusive account—i.e., one that enables recipients to store G2P payments and other funds until they wish to access them and make or receive payments from other people in the financial system, and one that is accessible, in terms of cost and distance.

The first section of this Focus Note reviews the state of G2P payments today, including how we arrived at a figure of at least 170 million poor G2P recipients and a country example (Colombia) showing that several types of G2P payments reach the poor. The second section looks at the early experience with providing financial services to poor G2P recipients. We find that 45 percent of G2P programs launched in the past 10 years use an electronic payment mechanism that creates a foundation on which a financially inclusive account can be offered. Examples where this is already being done (Brazil, India, and South Africa) are discussed. The third section deals with five common concerns of policy makers and social development program managers. Recommendations to government, the financial industry, and donors are
summarized in the conclusion.

Mobile-Banking Adoption and Usage by Low-Literate, Low-Income Users in the Developing World

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Nov 30, 2009
Mobile-Banking Adoption and Usage by Low-Literate, Low-Income Users in the Developing World data sheet 3961 Views
Indrani Medhi, Aishwarya Ratan, Kentaro Toyama
Publication Date: 
Aug 2009
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

Due to the increasing penetration of mobile phones even in poor communities, mobile-phone-enabled banking (m-banking) services are being increasingly targeted at the “unbanked” to bring formal financial services to the poor. Research in understanding actual usage and adoption by this target population, though, is sparse. There appear to be a number of issues which prevent low-income, low-literate populations from meaningfully adopting and using existing m-banking services.

This paper examines variations across countries in adoption and usage of existing m-banking services by low-literate, low-income individuals and possible factors responsible for the same. It is observed that variations are along several parameters: household type, services adopted, pace of uptake, frequency of usage, and ease of use. Each of these observations is followed by a set of explanatory factors that mediate adoption and usage.

A Comparison of Mobile Money-Transfer UIs for Non-Literate and Semi-Literate Users

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Nov 30, 2009
A Comparison of Mobile Money-Transfer UIs for Non-Literate and Semi-Literate Users data sheet 3219 Views
Indrani Medhi, S. N. Nagasena Gautama, Kentaro Toyama
Publication Date: 
Apr 2009
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

Due to the increasing penetration of mobile phones even into poor communities, mobile payment schemes could bring formal financial services to the “unbanked”. However, because poverty for the most part also correlates with low levels of formal education, there are questions as to whether electronic access to complex financial services is enough to bridge the gap, and if so, what sort of UI is best.

In this paper, we present two studies that provide preliminary answers to these questions. We first investigated the usability of existing mobile payment services, through an ethnographic study involving 90 subjects in India, Kenya, the Philippines and South Africa. This was followed by a usability study with another 58 subjects in India, in which we compared non-literate and semi-literate subjects on three systems: text-based, spoken dialog (without text), and rich multimedia (also without text). Results confirm that non-text designs are strongly preferred over text-based designs and that while task- completion rates are better for the rich multimedia UI, speed is faster and less assistance is required on the spoken-dialog system.

What Makes a Successful Mobile Money Implementation? Learnings from M-PESA in Kenya and Tanzania

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Nov 03, 2009
What Makes a Successful Mobile Money Implementation? Learnings from M-PESA in Kenya and Tanzania data sheet 4275 Views
Gunnar Camner, Emil Sjoblom, Caroline Pulver
Publication Date: 
Jan 2009
Publication Type: 
Report/White paper

This review considers the differences between the adoption rates of M-PESA in Kenya and Tanzania and tries to highlight some of the reasons that the same service launched in seemingly similar countries has yielded such different results. This paper is intended as a discussion document for mobile network operators considering launching a mobile money service.

Safaricom launched M-PESA in Kenya in March 2007 and has since become the most famous and probably the most successful implementation of mobile money service to date. In May 2008, 14 months after the launch, M-PESA in Kenya had 2.7 million users and almost 3,000 agents. Today, over two years since its launch, M-PESA has gained 7 million registered customers and has 10,000 agents spread across the country. This exceeds the reach of any other financial service in Kenya.

Finaccess 2009 showed that M-PESA has become the most popular method of money transfer in Kenya with 40% of all adults using the service. The same Kenyan survey also shows a dramatic increase in national remittances; from 17% in 2006 to 52% in 2009, which may be attributed to the ease of money transfer through ubiquitous M-PESA agents. Many mobile network operators have been eager to repeat M-PESA’s success in Kenya, but the formula for this success is not yet clear. One year after the Kenyan launch, Vodacom launched M-PESA in April 2008 in Tanzania. The user uptake of the service in Tanzania has been much slower compared to its northern neighbour. In June 2009, 14 months after the launch, M-PESA in Tanzania had 280,000 users and 1,000 agents (Rasmussen 2009).

Can the Success of M-PESA be repeated? A Review of the Implementations in Kenya and Tanzania

Posted by AnneryanHeatwole on Nov 02, 2009
Can the Success of M-PESA be repeated? A Review of the Implementations in Kenya and Tanzania data sheet 2525 Views
Gunnar Camner, Emil Sjoblom
Publication Date: 
Jul 2009
Publication Type: 
Journal article

This paper puts forward explanations and backgrounds to the remarkable difference in user uptake of the m-banking service M-PESA in Tanzania compared to the same service in Kenya. Data gathered from user and industry interviews, conducted during a field study in Tanzania between March-May 2009 is together with literature from Kenya used to compare the m-banking environment in the two countries.

M-PESA is provided by mobile network operators (MNOs), Safaricom in Kenya and Vodacom in Tanzania. Both are the leading MNO in their respective country although Vodacom has a substantially lower market share and turnover compared to Safaricom. This simple fact resonates in many areas affecting M-PESA, such as: size of marketing budget, M-PESA's priority within the organization and the company's ability to quickly sign up agents and attract initial customers. Differences in the general economic situation, the geography and political history are also put forward. Kenya has a stronger economy, a higher GDP and a more developed banking system. This has contributed to the financial literacy in the country which is an important factor when communicating a service like M-PESA.

Among the differences between the two implementations, we suggest that the three most influential factors to the user uptake have been the two companies ability to transform their airtime distribution into an agent network, the marketing strategy which needed to be adopted to the specific settings in each country, and the geographical and demographic conditions.

M-Banking and M-Payments for Social Impact

Posted by sharakarasic on Oct 28, 2008

On the first day of MobileActive ’08 in Johannesburg, I attended "M-Banking and M-Payments for Social Impact", with Jonathan Donner, Tonny Omwansa, Jesse Moore, Brian Richardson, and Alex Comninos presenting to a packed room. The session gave an overview of m-banking (mobile banking) and m-payments (mobile payments), including specific mobile banking solutions such as M-PESA and Wizzit.

Brian Richardson, the CEO of Wizzit, began by stressing that mobile banking is becoming more and more common in African countries. In South Africa, more than 11 million people live with cash only. 600 million in Africa don’t have access to basic financial services because of affordability, accessibility, and availability. Without access to basic financial services, it’s hard to be an economic citizen.

SMS as Information Channel in Post-Election Kenya

Posted by CorinneRamey on Jan 21, 2008

Post-election violence has exploded in Kenya in the wake of the December 27 presidential elections. Ethnic killings -- which today's New York Times suggests may have been carefully planned -- have increased, and estimates of the death toll range from 650 to over 1000. In the midst of this, people both in and outside the country are using mobile phones in innovative ways to communicate political knowledge and circumvent the media blackout.