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Promises and Pitfalls of Mobile Money in Afghanistan: Evidence from a Randomized Control Trial

Blumenstock, Joshua E., Callen, Michael, Ghani, Tarek and Koepke, Lucas (2015) Promises and Pitfalls of Mobile Money in Afghanistan: Evidence from a Randomized Control Trial. In: Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development, ICTD 2015. ACM International Conference Proceeding Series. Association for Computing Machinery, SGP. ISBN 9781450331630

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Identification Number: 10.1145/2737856.2738031


Despite substantial interest in the potential for mobile money to positively impact the lives of the poor, little empirical evidence exists to substantiate these claims. In this paper, we present the results of a field experiment in Afghanistan that was designed to increase adoption of mobile money, and determine if such adoption led to measurable changes in the lives of the adopters. The specific intervention we evaluate is a mobile salary payment program, in which a random subset of individuals of a large firm were transitioned into receiving their regular salaries in mobile money rather than in cash. We separately analyze the impact of this transition on both the employer and the individual employees. For the employer, there were immediate and significant cost savings; in a dangerous physical environment, they were able to effectively shift the costs of managing their salary supply chain to the mobile phone operator. For individual employees, however, the results were more ambiguous. Individuals who were transitioned onto mobile salary payments were more likely to use mobile money, and there is evidence that these accounts were used to accumulate small balances that may be indicative of savings. However, we find little consistent evidence that mobile money had an immediate or significant impact on several key indicators of individual wealth or well-being. Taken together, these results suggest that while mobile salary payments may increase the efficiency and transparency of traditional systems, in the short run the benefits may be realized by those making the payments, rather than by those receiving them.

Item Type: Book Section
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2015 Association for Computing Machinery
Divisions: Economics
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HG Finance
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA76 Computer software
H Social Sciences > HE Transportation and Communications
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Date Deposited: 17 Dec 2019 10:42
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 05:53

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