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USAID Reports on Afghanistan’s Growing Mobile Economy

  • By Timothy Roberts
  • Tuesday, September 25, 2012

USAID’s Frontline Magazine recently shared a great article on Afghanistan’s growing mobile market, including the growth of mobile money. It identifies mobile money as one of the most promising uses of mobile technology as the expense and danger of moving cash is just too great. The article estimates only 5% of the population have actual bank accounts, while 65% of people have mobile phones. As the article explains:

Already, m-money trials facilitated by the U.S. Government, such as paying government salaries by mobile instead of cash, are demonstrating startling benefits: In Wardak province, police deployed in unbanked communities report “raises” of 30 percent when paid via mobile; cash payments of salaries in Afghanistan are exceedingly vulnerable to corruption. Equally promising applications to extend and repay micro loans and pay household electricity bills are beginning to roll out, delivering dramatic increases in efficiency. As the mobile network operators increasingly focus on scaling their mobile money products and agent networks, USAID is working in partnership with the private sector to aggregate demand and provide consumer education to Afghans, most of whom are unfamiliar with or mistrustful of the formal banking system.

In one novel approach, the Agency is working with the Association of Mobile Money Operators of Afghanistan to harness the creativity and energy of Afghanistan’s best and brightest to develop mobile money applications to address pressing problems faced daily by Afghans.

Well worth a read, and it will leave you with no doubt as to how mobile money can impact nations without the infrastructure for traditional banking.