All things ICT and mobile germane to the base of the pyramid

Mobile Money – Malawi 2016

Social cash transfer FGD participants in Malawi receiving their allowances on mobile money   A Malawi agro dealer and grocer that is an Airtel Money and TNM Mpamba agent   A Malawi grocer that is also a TNM Mpamba agent   A Malawi sundries store and tailor that is also an Airtel Money agent   A Malawi focus group discussion (FGD) about mobile money   A Malawi grocer that is also a Zoona agent   TNM Mpamba fee schedule – a 10000 kW (~$14.50 USD) cash out comes with a ~50 cent (USD) fee

Why a Common Platform is Within Reach: Mobile finance and the emergence of a comprehensive ICT4D mHub platform?

I had the pleasure of participating in and being a lunch table discussion leader for the July 2015 ICT4AG conference in Washington, D.C. As I reflected on the various presentations and coffee break conversations, it seems we are already well on our way toward imagining what the next generation of ICT4AG (information communications technology for agriculture) can offer. But what this blog proposes is a broader view of the next generation of ICT4D (information communications technology for development); one that breaks down the inertia of our silos toward a common platform, a chain of sectors linked together by finance. The potential for doing this is not limited by the technology but only by our imagination and commitment. Currently there are numerous applications but they are not synced with each other. What is truly needed (and possible) is a comprehensive mHub type of platform that is multi-sectoral (e.g. agriculture, health, education, etc.) and multi-functional. This is an expansion of what was a formal outcome of another ICT4AG conference in Kigali, Rwanda, in November 2013. Like the July 2015 conference, the Kigali conference imagined the next generation of ICT4AG would be a comprehensive platform(s) that includes multiple agriculture functionalities that align with...
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Three Steps to Jumpstart Agriculture Mobile Payments: Step 2 – forming strategic alliances

Editor’s note: This is the second of a three-part series that began last week, laying out three steps for embedding mobile money into agriculture development at the BoP. Click here for part one and part three. The new industry of mobile money began as recently as 2007 and has rapidly saturated the large urban city centers in East Africa. West Africa and elsewhere in the world are following close behind. The next challenge for the industry is to roll out into rural areas in further pursuit of breaking even – and even generating a return on investment. In their 2013 state of the industry report, GSMA, the umbrella organization for mobile network operators worldwide, acknowledges this challenge as well as the need to position mobile money agents in the right rural areas to have maximum impact. Meanwhile, a mobile payments strategic alliance partner for the cotton sector in Zambia believes a race is underway among large cotton buyers to have the fastest speed of payment to farmers. These same types of alliances that link large commodity buyers with mobile payments providers have emerged in Uganda, Kenya, Ghana and elsewhere. There are a number of dynamics that can strategically align a...
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The Next Great Innovation in Finance: Lee Babcock of ACDI/VOCA on the disruptive potential of mobile money

Editor’s note: As part of NextBillion Financial Innovation’s launch, we invited a number of leaders to contribute their views on where innovation is heading, and what obstacles remain. Today Lee Babcock, Managing Director of Mobile Strategy at ACDI/VOCA, describes how different stakeholders can help mobile money become the next innovation to transform finance at the BoP. Microfinance was the last big financial innovation. Mobile money will be the next. When Mohammad Yunus pioneered the Grameen Bank in 1976, nobody believed microfinance institutions (MFIs) could be commercially sustainable. But there was hope in the model’s ability to provide lending to the very poor, so donors helped start MFIs around the world. The organization I work for, ACDI/VOCA, established a dozen MFIs, with USAID support, that have disbursed more than $1 billion in loans to microenterprises, smallholders and rural families. Once it was clear that MFIs were commercially sustainable, the private sector stepped in to expand financing. Donor-financed and now privately financed MFIs have served more than 154 million clients worldwide but fall far short of serving the 2.5 billion adults that are unbanked. This is because we can’t build a physical MFI or bank in every community that needs one. Enter...
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