Project Year

2011

Region(s)

Southern Africa

Country(ies)

South Africa

Project Description

Amartya Sen conceptualises freedoms as the means and ends to development. Capabilities are essential freedoms however personal characteristics, economic and social circumstances affect the conversion of capabilities into functions that determine use for development purposes. Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) that have recognized such capabilities and social and economic issues can affect an individual’s freedom to use ICTs. With governments in the developing world seeking to extend financial services to the poor as a tool for economic development and mobile phone penetration reaching unprecedented diffusion rates of technology, mobile phones have the potential to enhance capabilities of the poor and improve financial services access.

In South Africa, the World Bank claims that despite a well developed financial sector, 40% of the South African population still have no access to formal banking service. However, 60% of the South African population own mobile phones. This has seen the introduction of a mobile banking initiatives aimed at banking the unbanked like Wizzit bank, a subsidiary of SA Bank of Athens that offers payments, transfer and savings facilities through the use of a mobile phone. This proposal recommends the exploration of financial technologies like Wizzit and such applications that are changing livelihoods of the poor in Alexandra, Hammanskraal and Ekurhuleni in Johannesburg, South Africa. Understanding why, when, and to what extent users use the technologies in storing their wealth and facilitating payments and transfers will direct understanding of how mobile banking can impact wealth management, socioeconomic development and consequently economic growth.

Researcher(s)

Mildred Makore

About the Researcher(s)

Mildred Ponesai Makore received her Bsc Honours in Economics from the University of Zimbabwe in 2001. She is currently a Master’s in Development Studies student at the University of KwaZulu Natal in South Africa. Prior to enrolling with the University of KwaZulu Natal she served the Central Bank of Zimbabwe as a Payment Systems Analyst in the National Payment Systems Department for four years. During this period she worked closely with initiatives to bank the unbanked in the Oversight unit and was involved in regulating and supervising payment systems for enhanced financial inclusion. She has also worked with microfinance institutions in the provision of credit facilities to meet the financial needs of the poor, particularly small businesses. Her research interests include financial inclusion, ICT4D, inclusive markets and private sector development.

Synopsis of Research Results

Link to Mildred Makore's "Exploring Use of Mobile Banking Services by the Poor: Case of Wizzit Bank in South Africa"

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