The story of mobile money is often told through numbers.
Some of those numbers are encouraging, like the fact that 272 mobile money deployments are now live in 90 countries. (1) Others show how much work still lies ahead, as long as only 65% of women have access to a bank or mobile money account compared to 72% of men.(2) We know that the mobile money industry processes $1.3 billion per day, that a typical customer moves $206 per month, and that financial inclusion rates have grown significantly in 31 emerging markets.(3)
These numbers are like highway signs: they help us to navigate complex global issues and develop strategic pathways through those issues. We wouldn’t know where we’ve been without them, or where we’re going. But these numbers don’t tell us everything, either.
They don’t tell us about the Filipino migrant in Singapore who waits in a queue for hours to send his wages home, only to watch as those wages are siphoned away by service fees at each twist and turn in their journey through the traditional remittance system. These numbers don’t tell us about the restaurant owner in Cambodia whose unbanked employees must be paid in cash, putting stable, viable business practices out of his reach. They don’t tell us about a parent in Tunisia trying to cover school fees, a grandmother in Papua New Guinea trying to keep the electricity on, or a Bangladeshi son trying to care for aging parents. Each of these stories contains a whole universe of lived experience and real struggle—a universe that is concealed within those numbers.
We’d like to change that.
As a business, our strategic direction is based on the market’s fluctuating numbers. As a group of people working together on a problem, though, we’re focused on stories.
Our inspiration comes from that Filipino migrant, and that restaurant owner, and those Tunisian school kids. Revealing their stories means understanding the true impact of mobile money—not only on the numbers, but on the lives behind those numbers. That’s why we’ve put together this eBook of end-user stories: Mobile Money Platforms: More than just payments.
Some are based on real end users, and some are composite stories that represent what we know about the people who rely on our technology to take control of their money. If the numbers are signposts, helping us navigate this journey, then these stories are our destination.
Let’s go there together.