Monday, February 26, 2007

Mobile remittances

This post from Foreign Policy's Passport Blog outlines the potential of mobile phones as tools for immigrant remittances. Most of the world's poor don't have access to banks - as the microfinance movement has been making very clear for decades. But more and more of them have access to phones - some of this access being related to the microfinance movement itself, such as in the case of the Grameen Phone company.

This raises some incredibly interesting questions about telecoms and village co-ops as financial companies. Talk about a "virtual world" for considering the recrafting of philanthropy, finance, investment, mutual aid, and social enterprise. As we get used to the reality that financial currencies are increasingly digital and intangible, it creates room for 'social currency' - trust, peer support and pressure, and community credibility that form the basis of collateral in many successful microfinance efforts. Cell phones as banks might also open up opportunities where literacy rates are so low as to inhibit transaction processing, record tracking and other 'mundane details' that can derail worthwhile investments.


xb blog said...

mobile banking is going to be huge. i wrote about it this week, too.

xb blog said...

Mobile banking could be huge. I wrote it about it here a few days ago. At this point, non profit philanthropic funders need to pay to establish some of the infrastructure and figure out some of the regulatory and other problems. That's why Gates' grant is so timely. It's a market opportunity but it takes a village worth of funders to create those opportunities in the developing world some times. All types of capital need to be able to come to the table and have their theories of change and their viewpoints respected and understood. Intel, working with the UN, btw, seems to be getting this.