Visit to view in your browser.


Director's Message

In the Media
Collaborations & Public Engagements

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

Insight and Impact was the title of this year’s IMTFI conference. As one of the world’s only research institutes devoted to payments innovation and its role in poverty alleviation worldwide, our conference ranged widely over topics and geographies: from financial security in the conflict zones of Pakistan to sports betting in Uganda, from mobile money in social protection networks in Colombia to fraud in electronic payments in Nigeria. But this year we added something different: a panel we called IMTFI’s X-Factor. We invited prior award recipients to come back to UC Irvine to discuss how their IMTFI-funded research had an impact on their communities, regulatory discussions, industry innovation and their own careers. Many had gone on to disseminate their work in novel formats, or developed products aimed at enhancing financial literacy, raising awareness among regulators, and shaping the agenda of donor agencies. Our alumni also shared how important the IMTFI community has become to them, as a place for the open (and judgment-free!) sharing of ideas, methods and perspectives on financial inclusion and payment technologies.

Conference attendees emphasized the importance of “thick” data, not just big data; of robust, ethical and actionable research, and IMTFI’s unique position as one of the only truly inclusive forums for conversation and engagement around financial inclusion. Discussants from the Better than Cash Alliance, Women’s World Banking, CGAP, the International Rescue Committee and elsewhere underscored the need for responsible digital financial inclusion. It was clear at the conference that IMTFI has become not just a clearinghouse for research on digital financial services or mobile money; it has also developed into a network, over 160 people strong and growing, of locally grounded professionals with the expertise to conduct rigorous qualitative studies that go beyond large surveys, and that help provide granular, disaggregated and historically situated learning that complements and can help redirect randomized controlled trials and large market research projects. IMTFI emphasizes user-centric perspectives, incorporating the diverse and locally specific ways people engage with money and technology that can yield culturally appropriate and responsible financial inclusion strategies. Seeing how IMTFI research has impacted the field helps explain why IMTFI researchers are often the first go-to experts whenever industry partners, donor agencies or governments want insight into the on-the-ground, consumer side of payments innovation globally. Indeed, the conference generated yet more requests from industry and non-profits for IMTFI researchers’ expertise and assistance.

After this year’s conference, our discussions around trust, technological breakdown and payment infrastructures became very real for me personally. I had a reality-check when trying to pay with my EMV-enabled credit card in the local grocery story. Let’s face it: EMV in the US is still a bit of a let down. My previous failures at the point-of-sale led me to try to swipe my card despite seeing the slot for the chip, taking up extra time and requiring the clerk, patiently and slowly, to explain to me how the new system works. It was one of those “payments moments” that we who study this industry train ourselves to observe--but this time, it was happening to me. The experience drove home core IMTFI lessons--the role of intermediaries facilitating behavior change, the way initial failures of new technology color the user's whole experience of it for a long time after, the “gestural economy” one has to participate in to make payments work, and the trust one needs in order to believe that this time, just maybe, it might work. Trust is the theme of IMTFI's most recent synthesis of its over 7 years of research. Together with our Consumer Finance Research Methods Toolkit, our recent videos on the realities of money and payment among the world's poor, and our researchers' blog posts, these new releases spotlight the continued need for in-depth, grounded and cross-national research on the consumer-side of new methods of payment and their potential role in poverty alleviation.

Our research has positioned IMTFI as the key, global thought leadership network on payments technologies and financial inclusion. In the coming months, we will release more thematically oriented pieces based on syntheses of our 8 years of research and counting. We also plan to issue a call for sponsorship of our next round of research on the theme of payment and inequality, at home and abroad. We invite you to reach out to us, to brainstorm with us about how we can leverage what we’ve built at IMTFI so that we can continue exploring innovation in payments and bringing our work to serve the local and global community.

Bill Maurer, Director


IMTFI's 7th Annual Conference:
INSIGHT & IMPACT, April 20-21, 2016

IMTFI successfully completed its 7th Annual Conference where researchers presented their preliminary findings on the potential and real impact of new technologies in providing access to finance for the world's poor.

Online conference schedule with conference program and blogpost summaries by Liz Losh, and photos

Complete conference videos at our YouTube channel

Cross-Border Transfers
Learning event in Abidjan, Ivory Coast this October

Upcoming learning event drawing from IMTFI project "Cross-Border Transfers as a Strategic Tool to Promote the Diffusion of Mobile Money in Rural Areas: The Case of Burkinabe Diaspora Living in Ivory Coast." Funded by the Swiss Academy of Sciences (KFPE) and in collaboration with the University of Geneva, INERA (Ouagadougou), CIRES (Abidjan), and University Felix Houphouët Boigny (Abidjan), this 5-day event will bring together researchers, students, practitioners and policymakers from Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, and Switzerland to discuss research insights on mobile money.

Congratulations to Solène Morvant-Roux, Simon Barussaud, and Dieudonné Ilboudo!


Trust and Money:
It's Complicated

New IMTFI Synthesis

The Mobile Money Experience in Sub-Saharan Africa

Mrinalini Tankha, The African Technopolitan, January 2016 issue, Vol. 5

Hearthholds of Mobile Money in Western Kenya

Sibel Kusimba, Economic Anthropology, Vol 3, Issue 2, June 2016

M-money as Conduit for Conditional Cash Transfers in the Philippines

Erwin Alampay and Charlie Cabotaje, CPRsouth Special Issue of Information Technologies & International Development, Vol 12, Issue 2, Summer 2016

Following Mobile Money in Somaliland

Research report by Gianluca Iazzolino with the Rift Valley Institute (RVI)

Predicting Poverty and Wealth from Mobile Phone Metadata

Joshua Blumenstock et al., Science 350, 1073 (2015)


Using Social Network Analysis to Analyze Social and Economic Empowerment Through M-Pesa Use

Sibel Kusimba

At USAID and NetHope's event, Women's Empowerment and Digital Financial Services – Exploring the Connections, June 8th, 2016

Divine Fuh
"Shuffering and Shmiling: Reflections on Researching African Women's Struggles in Uncertain Times," Keynote address CODESRIA-AARC Gender Symposium on Women's Struggles in Cairo, Egypt, 9-11 May 2016.

Mrinalini Tankha
"Currency Counterpoints: Money and Power in Post-Soviet Cuba" Panel on Political and Economic Changes in Cuba Conference, Cuba Transitions: What's Left Out? Brown University, May 2016.

Andrew Crawford
"Exploring Rosca Dynamics with a Cambodian Factory Worker Board Game" at Research Staff Seminar - German Institute for Economic Research, Berlin, February 29th, 2016.

Ursula Dalinghaus
"Cashing out of the euro? Situating affective monetary attachments in the Euro-Zone" UCSD Science Studies Colloquium Series, UC San Diego, November 30, 2015.

Ndunge Kiiti
"Mobile Money Technology in Kenya: Lessons in In(Exclusion) for Development." Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development (CIIFAD) Seminar Series, November 11, 2015.

Ndunge Kiiti
"The Digital Wallet: How Mobile Money is Transforming the Business Landscape in Kenya." Johnson Africa Business Society (JABS), Cornell University. Presentation during Africa Week, October 21-22, 2015.

In the Media

Mobile money platforms key for greater social ties – study

Sibel Kusimba, Business Daily

Comics Designed to Teach Low-income Indian Women Financial Literacy

Deepti Kc and Mudita Tiwari, India West

The Harriet Tubman $20 and other faces on money show how we want to remember history

Bill Maurer, Los Angeles Times

Microfinance Could Wind Up Being the New Subprime

Caroline Schuster, The Conversation

Bank Fraud Threatens CBN Cashless Policy

Oludayo Tade and Oluwatosin Adeniyi, Business Journal

e-fraud crippling Nigeria

Oludayo Tade and Oluwatosin Adeniyi, National Mirror

Collaborations and Public Engagements

Consumer Finance Research Methods Toolkit
(BETA Version) now available!

Erin B. Taylor and Gawain Lynch with Ursula Dalinghaus. Feedback is welcome!

Juggling Currencies Video

Magdalena Villarreal, Lya Niño, Joshua Greene, Ana Torres, and Pablo de la Peña

alt.economy: Ethnographic Reflections on Remaking Economy and Finance

Two day workshop "alt.economy: Ethnographic Reflections on Remaking Economy and Finance," January 2016. Find more about the workshop through review article “alt.economy: strategies, tensions, challenges,” by Taylor Nelms. The published version is available here. The open-access, pre-publication version is available here.

The New Cuban Economy: Global Integration and Local Solidarities

A roundtable discussion with with Rafael Betancourt, Raul Fernandez, and Mrinalini Tankha January 27, 2016. Learn more.


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!

The Socio-economic Lives of Banking Correspondents in India’s Trichy District
K.V. Nithyananda

Technology Knows No Age: Voices of Elderly Persons Receiving Mobile-Enabled SAGE Cash Transfers in Uganda
Julius Okello

The Role of Mobile Money in Replacing Cash in India
Lakshmi Kumar

Innovative and Interactive Ways to Improve the Savings Habits of Women
Deepti KC and Mudita Tiwari

Mobile-izing Savings with Defaults in Afghanistan: Wins First Place for Next Billion's 2015 Most Influential Post Contest
Michael Callen, Joshua Blumenstock, and Tarek Ghani

M-Shwari in Kenya: Use and Impact among the Jua Kali Informal Sector (Video)
Ndunge Kiiti, Jane Mutinda and Monique Hennink with cinematographer Steve McCord

Saving for a rainy day – in alternative ways: part 1
Research by IMTFI fellow Janet Arnado featured in The Guardian Visa Partner Zone

Saving for a rainy day – in alternative ways: part 2
Research by IMTFI Fellows Sibel Kusimba and Nithya Joseph are featured in part 2 of The Guardian series

Going to where the Women are: Insights from the Making Finance Work for Women Summit in Berlin, Germany
Ursula Dalinghaus

Mobile Money Uptake, Savings and Social Networks in Tanzania: A Lesson in Methods
Alfredo Burlando, Cynthia Kinnan, Silvia Prina

Infrastructures and Interfaces: Domestic Remittances in India
Amrit Pal

See you in the funny papers: women love comics about financial literacy
Research by IMTFI fellows Deepti KC and Mudita Tiwari featured in The Guardian Visa Partner Zone

Comics help women become super savers in India: see the pages
Research by IMTFI fellows Deepti KC and Mudita Tiwari part 2 featured in The Guardian Visa Partner Zone

Final Report - Mobile Money Utility & Financial Inclusion: Insights from Unbanked Poor End-Users in Nigeria and Ghana
Comparative report from Lite J. Nartey and Olayinka David-West

Mobile money and savings in Mali: A potential leverage effect for greater bank access
Mariam Sangaré (with Isabelle Guerin)

Financial Education via Television Comedy: Evidence from a Pilot Study in Cambodia
Andrew Crawford, Paul Lajbcygier and Pushkar Maitra, Monash University

Using the ATM Debit Card to Build Trust and Savings: A Study through Mexico's Oportunidades
Enrique Seira, from the study "Paying Conditional Cash Transfer Programs in Bank Accounts"

IMTFI's Money Archive Collection

See past issues of the enews.

University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA 92697-5100