“Mobile money” has revolutionized access to financial services in Kenya. Yet, the impact of mobile phone-based banking has yet to be realized in other countries. This project will develop and pilot a novel mobile phone-based savings account (“M-Pasandaaz”, or M-Savings) that enables subscribers in Afghanistan to deposit and accumulate balances in a phone-based savings account. Critically, the project also evaluates the uptake of M-Pasandaaz using a randomized controlled trial (RCT). Although Afghanistan was the second country in the world, after Kenya, to launch “mobile money,” uptake and usage remains low. Additionally, only 3% of the adult population in Afghanistan uses a bank savings account.
Demonstrating the DIL Approach
Mobile money and bank-linked mobile wallets hold the potential to vastly increase financial inclusion. The core challenges to implementation are largely related to the engineering of the product. Users need an interface that not only allows for simple transfers between individuals, but also between bank accounts and other mobile wallets. Account balances therefore must be readily available and regularly updated, the fees for transactions need to be transparent, and users need to be confident that they can easily track and access their money. An interdisciplinary approach to developing and evaluating the interface will ensure effective uptake amongst the very poor and the scalability of the product.
A full experimental test of the technology is underway as of Fall 2013.
- Professor Michael Callen, UCLA, Political Science
- Professor Josh Blumenstock, U of Washington, The Information School
- Tarek Ghani, UC Berkeley, Haas School of Business
Roshan Telecommunication, Afghanistan’s largest telecommunications operator.