Thursday, August 22, 2013

Empowering women with Mobile Money. Enough research to support further investments.

This was a blog that I was planning to write for a long time, but every time that I started, I realized that I cannot do justice to this in a simple blog and then stopped. Tonight, I decided to post my incomplete blog-post anyhow. I have come to grips with the fact that one can only scratch the surface of this important topic. While mobile money have made big leaps and bounds in many markets, bringing this service to women has lagged because of specific constraints (like women not always owning phones or lack of education).

The industry have made big gains getting to understand the need and the benefits to women through the work of the GSMA mWomen Programme with support from Visa. Research reports covering these aspects have been released conducted in five key countries Indonesia, Kenya, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea and Tanzania. It is worthwhile to have a look at some of the clips posted where women talk these studies (Video for Indonesia, Kenya, Pakistan and PNG). USAid also performed a study looking at the access that women have to mobile technology in Afghanistan. (Read here). This report is particularly interesting to read. It does not refer to mobile money, but talks about many other aspects ranging from being informed and connected to security and health care benefits.

With Mobile technology women are empowered to entry into the financial mainstream much more easier. They now get access to life-enhancing services such as savings, payments, health-care, education, and entrepreneurship. However, the research show that the gender gap in mobile phone ownership and usage still reduce the access that women have in many countries to these benefits. In order to achieve the full potential of the role mobile technology can play in women’s empowerment globally, it is critical that service providers understand what women need and design products that effectively reach this audience.

Some of the specific findings in Kenya (one of the more mature markets) are that younger women generally valued the ability to use mobile money to send money to their mothers more. (They view their mothers more reliable and likely to save for the good of the household than their fathers.) Married women also appreciated that mobile money provided them the facility to save money separately from their husbands. For some users, convenience is a powerful means of improving their security as it reduces the likelihood of being mugged.

In the case of a country like Tanzania for instance women generally feel that using mobile money improved their lives (either in their personal capacity or in cases where they run small businesses) because of its ease and convenience. In a country where almost three quarters of the population relies on agriculture-related activities for income, people often keep crops such as maize as savings. The process of liquidating these assets when there is an immediate financial need has been improved through mobile money capabilities.

There are three key characteristics to women’s financial management that is of relevance in looking at mobile money: the difference in roles between men and women for managing money, the demands living in rural areas - compared to cities and the general lack of control women often have over their own finances. It is clear that the new capabilities made available through mobile money do and will have an positive impact in the lives of women in emerging markets. 


1 comment:

Toti said...

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Thanks for believing in the mobile banking system.