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Director's Message

In the Media

Bill Maurer, Director
Jenny Fan, Institute Administrator
Ursula Dalinghaus, Postdoctoral Scholar
Mrinalini Tankha, Postdoctoral Scholar
Nandita Badami, Graduate Research Assistant
Nima L. Yolmo, Graduate Research Assistant

Director's Message

Welcome to the Fall Newsletter of the Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion! What's been happening in the world of payments lately? In the United States, chip-and-signature cards started showing up in people's mailboxes and merchants have been rushing to switch out their point-of-sale terminals for EMV-enabled machines. Let's just say it has not been a delightful experience. Processing times are slower than what Americans have come to expect at the checkout. The card has to remain in the terminal for longer than "feels right," and in my payment world at least I've seen merchants switch off the functionality and tellers asking customers to swipe their card through the magnetic stripe reader instead of inserting their chip.

The apparent time lag of chip-and-signature processing has led to the urban myth that EMV cards are vulnerable to hacking while they are in the terminal, or, worse, that "they" are stealing your information while the card sits there in the device. Now, this kind of folklore is bread and butter for an anthropologist like me. I am not sure who "they" are, and EMV is much, much more secure than a traditional magstripe card. But the awkward roll-out of EMV in the United States holds some lessons for new payment technologies around the world, especially in the global South and even more especially among those who have never used an electronic means of payment before. How does this system work? Why should I trust it? What else is going on when I use it? If many Americans have been experiencing a sort of lumpy payment experience over the past several weeks, imagine what it must feel like when you try to use a mobile money service and there is a network failure, or the lights go out, or the platform changes and suddenly your standard way of interacting with your payment device-and your money-seems to shift before your eyes. And imagine, on the flip side, how liberating it can be when you have access to a new payment service that frees you from having to carry cash and feeling vulnerable to theft or loss-a service that allows you to make financial decisions from your phone instead of having to rely on informal or fringe financial providers or on institutions that are far, far away from you and might not want to cater to you anyway.

This is why we study people and payments at IMTFI. You can read here about how far our work has been traveling, as our over 160 researchers carry out studies of how the intersection of money, technology and financial inclusion are shaping each other in 44 countries. Indeed, our network of researchers is our most important resource. Through IMTFI, researchers from around the world are giving direction to payments scholars and industry experts who are often bound to one country, usually in North America or Europe. To take just one example, David Evans, one of the world's leading experts on electronic payments, drew on Yaw Owusu-Agyeman and Abena Offe's research in Ghana for his recent paper, "An Empirical Examination of Why Mobile Money Schemes Ignite in Some Developing Countries but Flounder in Most." And IMTFI's synthesis of some key lessons learned, "Warning Signs and Ways Forward," was cited in a recent Focus Note by the World Bank's Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, "Doing digital finance right: the case for stronger mitigation of customer risks." Our researchers are publishing academic articles and books at an accelerated rate while also getting their work into the media and in policy and advocacy forums. We have also decisively entered into the academic archive: IMTFI appears in the new second edition of the International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, in the entry for "Exchange in Anthropology," published in March 2015:

"... anthropology's ongoing debates with economics will hopefully never cease, since such contention can be extraordinarily productive for all parties ... [An] exciting development born out of this tension is the welter of research emerging out of the Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion (IMTFI). ... [R]esearchers at this institute have reframed a highly consequential debate about the global poor's lack of access to financial services."

So the next time you're fumbling to pay - by mobile device, plastic card, cash or, yes, an EMV terminal, we hope you'll think about the vast set of technologies, infrastructures, human practices, beliefs and expectations that shape payment and can impact people's livelihoods. We also hope you'll think about the ever-expanding set of insights being produced by IMTFI's multi-country and multidisciplinary cadre of researchers who are fostering a truly inclusive global conversation on financial inclusion.


IMTFI's 7th Cohort of Research Fellows

IMTFI is excited to announce its 7th cohort of research fellows. Nineteen projects were selected out of 192 received after our global call for proposals that reached 116 countries. Our CFP is no small undertaking: given our mandate to reach scholars who otherwise might not be aware of such opportunities, in addition to electronic distribution, IMTFI sent about 6,000 physical mailings to institutions around the world.

This year there will be projects on: gender, adolescents, and generational tensions with MM uptake in Nigeria; cross-border transfers of Burkinabe diaspora living in Ivory Coast; laborers' transfer of value from Karachi's marketplaces to tribal war zones in Pakistan; multi-currency use in Zimbabwe; role of intermediaries in Myanmar and India-the list goes on with topics in micro-entrepreneurs, micro-insurance, fraud & security, remittances, and rurality--take a closer look at the individual project pages here.

Save the Date - 7th Annual Conference, April 20-21, 2016

Save the date April 20-21, 2016 for the IMTFI Annual Conference where researchers will be flown to UC Irvine to present preliminary findings halfway through their projects. Be sure to sign up on the email listserv to get the announcement!

IMTFI's Artifacts Collection NOW ONLINE through Omeka

IMTFI is pleased to announce that we are in the process of digitizing and uploading an extensive collection of artifacts donated by our researchers and graduate students over the years. The objects range from the esoteric (books about magic tricks with money, piggy banks from several different countries) to the classic (bank notes and coins) to the classically anthropological (kissi pennies, kina shell necklaces and cowrie shells). We have art, scrip, old credit card readers, alternative currencies and much more! Feel free to browse our collections and send us an email if you would like to know more about an object, or would like us to take pictures and send them to you for the purposes of research. You can also drop by to visit the archives collections in person, housed in the IMTFI offices at the Social and Behavioral Sciences Gateway, by prior appointment.

Check it Out!

Take a look at the NEW At-A-Glance page which highlights IMTFI articles, videos, publications, and photos from the IMTFI Flickr stream.

Publications & Books

"The unbearable lightness of digital money"

Gianluca Iazzolino, Journal of Payment Strategies and Systems, Volume 9, Number 3, Autumn/Fall, 2015

"Innovation and financial inclusion: A review of the literature"

Bruno Yawe, Journal of Payment Strategies and Systems, Volume 9, Number 3, Autumn/Fall, 2015

"Family Networks of Mobile Money in Kenya"

Sibel Kusimba, Information Technologies & International Development 11(3):1-21, Fall 2015

"Islamic (Micro)Finance: Culture, Context, Promise, Challenges"

Bridget Kustin, Financial Service for the Poor – Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
August 2015

BOOK: How Would You Like to Pay? How Technology is Changing the Future of Money

Bill Maurer, Duke University Press

BOOK: Social Collateral: Women and Microfinance in Paraguay's Smuggling Economy

Caroline Schuster, UC Press

Congratulations to everyone's accomplishments and publications, keep them coming! Full list IMTFI/Researchers - Publications


Several research projects were presented at the 27th Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE) Annual Meeting in July at the London School of Economics and Political Science:

"Gold-Based Financial Histories in the Silk-Reeling Industry in South India"

Nithya Joseph

"The Circulation and Transformation of Value in Transborder Currencies"

Magdalena Villarreal and Joshua Greene

Josh Blumenstock also gave a presentation on "Promises and Pitfalls of Mobile Money in Afghanistan: Evidence from a Randomized Control Trial" at ICTD Singapore on May 15, 2015.

IMTFI was showcased at the Humanitarian Innovation Conference held at the University of Oxford in July 2015 as an "Innovative Model for Generating Actionable Academic Research" by IMTFI fellow Anke Schwittay. This took place in a forum that explored models for innovative university-based research institutes that bring together academics, practitioners and policy makers to generate actionable research for humanitarian innovation. Session title: "Mobilising Data & Improving Measuring for Impact & Policy."

Anke Schwittay is also Lead Author for the International Panel on Social Progress (IPSP). Headed by Amartya Sen, the panel brings together social scientists who contribute their expertise to understanding and shaping social change across the world. The panel will produce a draft report available for public comment before 2017 publication. Anke Schwittay is contributing her expertise on innovation for development, particularly in the financial inclusion area, to the report's chapter on markets, finance and corporations. We look forward to reading the report!

Full list IMTFI/Researchers - Presentations

In the Media

Giving Women Control Over their Finances

Guardian/Opportunity International Roundtable

Ndunge Kiiti was cited in the Guardian at a roundtable debate in New York sponsored by Opportunity International. Among the goals of the United Nations’ ambitious new agenda, which aims to tackle poverty, inequality and climate change by 2030, is the empowerment of all women and girls. Participants gathered to identify the challenges facing women excluded from the economy and talk about how the private sector and civic society could help tackle these issues. Ndunge Kiiti stressed the importance of academia and local researchers in collecting data,  “In the tension between marketing and education, we can promote and advertise products all we want, and people will sign up for them, but if they don’t understand how to use them …? We’ve seen differences in policy, and even new products, out of research.”


Expert View: Any Good Financial Inclusion Policy Must Address Gender

IMTFI, MasterCard Inclusion Hub

Online money transfers and the "Skype" of money

Bill Maurer, Forbes (India)

A PHL strategy on financial inclusion: More on means vs reversing mind-sets?

Jeremiah Opiniano and Alvin Ang,
Business Mirror

Full list IMTFI/Researchers In the Media

Collaborations and Public Engagements

The Value of Money Exhibit

IMTFI fellows donated 35 objects to the Smithsonian, some of which are on display for The Value of Money Exhibit at the new Gallery of Numismatics which opened July 1, 2015. "Researchers outside the museum who explore the creation and use of new monetary technologies make ideal collectors. They are not only on the ground and able to acquire innovative payment artifacts, they also document the objects' uses as well as social and symbolic meanings." Read more on the Smithsonian blogpost: "Collecting the present: Partnering with researchers to document new developments in money" by Ellen Feingold.

Innovation in Payments Afterparty

IMTFI in collaboration with UCI Applied Innovation hosted an Innovation in Payments workshop with industry professionals and academics on October 30, 2015. Billed as an "afterparty" to this year's Money2020 conference in Las Vegas, the group met in Irvine to discuss trends in payments and their potential impact on alternative credit scoring, small value lending, loyalty and identity, among other topics. Joined by experts from Experian, Consult Hyperion and others, the day-long working session mapped the payments landscape and considered the implications for poverty, financial inclusion, security and authentication, and the future of money.

Doing Money, Artfully

IMTFI, with the Claire Trevor School of the Arts hosted "Doing Money, Artfully" at UC Irvine to discuss artistic practice as a way to critically engage with broader questions around the aesthetic and material power of the money form and the global politics of systems of circulation, financialization and value creation. Mark Auslander, associate professor of anthropology of Central Washington University (CWU) and director of the CWU Museum of Culture and Environment spoke about monetary symbolism, race, ritual, and performance in African contemporary art through the artwork of Gerald Machona; C.K. Wilde, reflected on the material and semiotic ironies of cutting up money as an act that symbolically disrupts capitalist narratives of power but also commodifies that dissent in the creation of commissioned artwork. For more on C. K. Wilde and his May 2015 exhibition at the Rosamund Felsen Gallery, visit his page.


In March of 2015 IMTFI arranged for a comprehensive visit to India to gather updates on four sponsored research projects studying rickshaw pullers in Delhi, financial literacy through comic books in Dharavi & Bihar, silk workers and gold in Karnataka, and fishers of Kerala and interviews with Eko and Gates Foundation in India. View the introduction to the well-received blog stories: "Revisiting IMTFI Researchers: Introducing the 2015 India Field Report."

Don't forget to subscribe to the IMTFI Blog for weekly posts that are written by funded fellows sharing their research results, notes in the field, or announcements-they're full of rich reports and amazing photos, you won't be disappointed!

Mobilizing Religion as Value Storage: Islamic Microfinance in Bangladesh as a Model for Poverty Alleviation (Part I)
Bridget Kustin

Mobilizing Religion as Value Storage: Islamic Microfinance in Bangladesh as a Model for Poverty Alleviation (Part II)
Bridget Kustin

Getting to Cagnipa: Field Notes from the Bicol Region, Philippines
Bernadette Gavino Gumba, Federico Jose T. Lagdameo

FarmVille and the Role of ICTs in Agricultural Savings and Loan Programmes in the Philippines
Allerine Isles

Reimagining Rurality in Mobile Money Times: Life, Identity, and Community in Southern Uganda (Part 2)
Prince Karakire Guma

Reimagining Rurality in Mobile Money Times: Life, Identity, and Community in Southern Uganda (Part 1)
Prince Karakire Guma

Njangi Sociality: New Money Technologies and Financial Inclusion in Cameroon
Francis B. Nyamnjoh, Divine Fuh

Consumer Finance Research: Global Approaches and Methods - Taking On Debt (Part 2) Perspectives from across the Social Sciences
Erin Taylor, Gawain Lynch

Consumer Finance Research: Global Approaches and Methods - Taking On Debt (Part 1) Perspectives from across the Social Sciences
Erin Taylor, Gawain Lynch

Hand Held Wealth?: A Case of Tigo Money in Bolivia
Maria Isabel Balderrama, Oscar Rocabado

"And our ears have been empty since then" – Gold Ownership and Changing Work Vulnerability in the Informal Silk Reeling Economy of Post-Liberalisation South India
Nithya Joseph

The Domino Effect of Electronic Benefits Transfers to Children in India
Parul Agarwal, Amulya Krishna Champatiray

The Contingency Fund and the Thirteenth Cow: ICTs in a Coming of Age Ritual in Western Kenya (Part 2)
Sibel Kusimba, Gabriel Kunyu, and Alex Wanyama

The Contingency Fund and the Thirteenth Cow: ICTs in a Coming of Age Ritual in Western Kenya (Part 1)
Sibel Kusimba, Gabriel Kunyu, and Alex Wanyama

A PHL strategy on financial inclusion in Philippines: More on the means than reversing mindsets?
Jeremaiah M. Opiniano, Alvin P. Ang

The Impact of Pure Mobile Micro-financing on the Poor: Kenya's Musoni Experience
Tonny Omwansa, Timothy Waema

Unemployed Ugandan Youth Gravitate to Sports Betting
Bruno Yawe, Kizito Ssengooba

Women and Mobile Money in Cote d'Ivoire
Kone Nara Kanigui Idriss, Wahabou Ibrah Mountaka

The New Financial Architecture and the Public Mobile Money System in Ecuador
Javier Félix

One Option, Divided Opinion: Influence of the Ancestors in the Decision to Use Mobile Technology in a Rural Community in Northern Ghana
Francis Niagia Santuah, Dennis Chirawurah, and Martin Alichimah

Juggling Currencies in Transborder Contexts: Field Notes from Sabinilla and Calexico (Part 2)
Magdalena Villarreal, Joshua Greene, and Lya Niño

Juggling Currencies in Transborder Contexts: Field Notes from Sabinilla and Calexico (Part 1)
Magdalena Villarreal, Joshua Greene, and Lya Niño

More than Just Accessibility: What Explains the Choice Between Mobile Money and Internet Banking among Consumers in Uganda
Howard Tugume, Justine Nanteza, and Justine Kobusinge

How "the Poor" Account: Financial Reckoning and its Cosmoeconomics in Assam, India (Part Three)
Sean Dowdy

How "the Poor" Account: Financial Reckoning and its Cosmoeconomics in Assam, India (Part Two)
Sean Dowdy

How "the Poor" Account: Financial Reckoning and its Cosmoeconomics in Assam, India (Part One)
Sean Dowdy

Consumer Finance Research: Global Approaches and Methods (Part 3) - Decoupling financial inclusion and well-being: A case study from Haiti
Erin Taylor, Gawain Lynch

See past issues of the enews.

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