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Director's Message
Upcoming Events

In the Media
Collaborations & Public Engagements

Bill Maurer, Director
Jenny Fan, Institute Manager
John Seaman, Administrative Analyst
Ursula Dalinghaus, Assistant Researcher
Stephen C. Rea, Assistant Researcher
Farah Qureshi, Graduate Research Assistant

Director's Message

Mind your Ps and 2s

It’s hard to believe that it has been a decade since IMTFI was founded. Back in the early days, the jury was out on whether M-Pesa's apparent take-off in Kenya would be sustained; whether other, prior mobile phone-based money transfer services would endure in places like the Philippines and South Africa; and what technological models, interfaces, and protocols would ultimately win the day. We didn't even know what to call the phenomenon that we were witnessing: for a while, everyone attached the initial "m-" to everything, signifying "mobile," like folks had done during the dot-com boom with the prefix e-. So we talked about m-banking and m-savings alongside e-commerce. It's hard to remember what a revelation it was to make a key terminological change - and then to make a corresponding pivot away from the simple initial focus on loan repayment and banking services. The terminological change was to adopt the phrase "mobile money" to refer to all of the emerging mobile-based services that could perform any of the functions of banking, payment, credit, or commerce (largely inspired by the GSMA). The pivot was to realize that what we were witnessing was the creation of a set of new digital payment infrastructures, as Jake Kendall, Philip Machoka, Clara Veniard, and I argued in Innovations. Spotlighting payment and platforms rather than a specific service or functionality opened the door to thinking more broadly about the importance of infrastructures in general - technological as well as social - and their role in supporting the public good and in creating new profit opportunities for large-scale corporations and micro-scale entrepreneurs alike.

In their survey of the mobile money space since IMTFI's founding, Drs. Stephen C. Rea and Taylor C. Nelms lean on IMTFI's international network of grounded research to outline 10 key lessons that have emerged since those early days. I want to spotlight one of those lessons, an overarching theme - Rea and Nelms suggest - for understanding mobile money: "Mind your Ps and 2s." Rea and Nelms argue that in the excitement around peer-to-peer money transfer, industry professionals and the donor community were too quick to focus on the pain points and frictions and ironically enough neglected the real import of each of the initials in the acronym for that core initial mobile money use case: P2P. It matters who those peers are on either side of a transaction. The word peer flattens inequalities, equates social and economic positions, and individualizes the "peer" who very likely is operating in a network of social relationships and obligations. And it also matters what "2s" are intermediating that transaction. The infrastructures, technological as well as social, are not just lines of connection, but rather complicated, often messy, and kludgey networks (just like payment infrastructures in the global North, by the way). Rea and Nelms write: "The complexities involved in introducing and scaling mobile money … resist distillation and are not going away." IMTFI research helps them underscore what they call the "variables that make a difference" in different contexts - variables of history, culture, and politics, among others.

I've been thinking about minding my own Ps and 2s in approaching this issue of our newsletter, because 10 years invites reflection on what we have accomplished - what our own Ps and 2s have nurtured and fomented. Read more...


Mobile Money: The First Decade Working Paper

By Stephen C. Rea and Taylor C. Nelms. The working paper surveys lessons from the first decade of mobile money research focusing on the studies produced by IMTFI Fellows. Rea and Nelms describe MM's primary use case of P2P transfer and then outline 10 insights gleaned from the research archive.

MONEY AT THE MARGINS: Global Perspectives on Technology, Financial Inclusion and Design

Edited by Bill Maurer, Smoki Musaraj, and Ivan Small. IMTFI is pleased to announce this forthcoming publication with Berghahn Books bringing together research by IMTFI fellows and postdoctoral scholars with commentary from leading experts. The book is Volume 6 in the Human Economy Series, edited by Keith Hart and John Sharp.

Loy Loy at the AAAs in the
Geek Anthropologist

Loy Loy is an innovative role-playing board game that teaches financial literacy in an immersive group environment. It is designed to give players the experience of one type of rotating savings and credit association (ROSCA) that exists in Cambodia.

Upcoming Events

Oh Shoot! What Now? Technology in a Time of Crisis
Center for Emerging Technology Research Colloquium with Filene at UC Irvine | April 12



Keeping Cash: Assessing the Arguments about Cash and Crime

Ursula Dalinghaus

Cash is not a Crime - ICA white paper finds efforts to curtail cash use hurts poor and does little to stop terrorism financing. Author interview

Intermediaries, Cash Economies, and Technological Change in Myanmar and India (Part Three) - An Illustrated Report

Elisa Oreglia and Janaki Srinivasan

Designing Financial Literacy
in Haiti

Erin B. Taylor and Heather A. Horst

In Design Anthropology: Object Cultures in Transition, Bloomsbury Publishing, edited by Alison Clarke

"Money in a Mobile Age: Emerging Trends in Consumers' Financial Practices"
Erin B. Taylor. Working paper with the Reserve Bank of San Francisco. August 2017. Working Paper 2017-03.

"Exploring Knowledge Gaps and Financial Exclusion in Ghanaian Monetary Transitions"
Dzokoto, V., Aggrey, J., Houngebeke, H. & Mensah, E., Journal of Information and Knowledge Management. September 2018.

"Automated Teller Machine Fraud in South-West Nigeria: Victim Typologies, Victimization Strategies and Fraud Prevention"
Oludayo Tade and Oluwatosin Adeniyi, Journal of Payments Strategy & Systems. Volume 11, Number 1, Spring 2017, pp. 86-92(7).

"Financial Education Via Television Comedy"
Andrew Crawford, Paul Lajbcygier and Pushkar Maitra. Applied Economics Letters, 19 Jan 2018.

"Insights on Demonetisation from Rural Tamil Nadu: Understanding Social Networks and Social Protection"
Isabelle Guérin, Youna Lanos, Sébastien Michiels, Christophe Jalil Nordman and Govindan Venkatasubramanian. Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 52, Issue No. 52, 30 Dec, 2017.

"Banking on Trust: How Debit Cards Enable the Poor to Save More"
Pierre Bachas, Paul Gertler, Sean Higgins, Enrique Seira. National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) Working Paper No. 23252. Issued March 2017.

In the Media

A Bank Heist in Paraguay's 'Wild, Wild West' Reveals the Dark Underbelly of Free Trade

Caroline Schuster
The Conversation

On Cash and Stuff

Bill Maurer and Lana Swartz
Socializing Finance Blog

Curating the New (and Old) Stuff of Money

Bill Maurer and Lana Swartz
Socializing Finance Blog

How to Talk about Money: Ethnographic Approaches to Financial Life

Erin B. Taylor
EPIC Perspectives Series

How India's Cash Chaos Is Screwing Over Their Neighbors - Oops!

Vivian Dzokoto

From the Wallet to the Refrigerator: Why in the Future Machines Will Pay for Everything

Andrés Krom
LA NACIÓN (The NATION, Argentina)
English translation

How Nigerian ATM fraud victims are swindled

Oludayo Tade
The Conversation

Beyond 'Send Money Home': The Complex Gender Dynamics Behind Mobile Money Usage

Susan Johnson
Next Billion Blog

Book interview with Bill Maurer on PAID: Tales of Dongles, Checks, and Other Money Stuff

Chuck Jaffe
Money Life

Collaborations and Public Engagements


"Using Blockchain to Secure the Supply Chain: Distributed Ledgers and Logistics for Critical Goods"

IMTFI and Cybersecurity Policy & Research Institute (CPRI) co-organized a conference at UCI on November 14th where an expert group of industry leaders, academic researchers, and government actors explored the innovative potential of the blockchain to transform supply chain security. Keynote speakers included Tracy Frost (Department of Defense) and Paul Chang (IBM). Click for program and video presentations.

Dissemination Events

IMTFI's International Board members and affiliated researchers assess the financial inclusion agenda in international development, identifying key areas of concern that remain unresolved:

Can Financial Inclusion
Be Synonymous with Financial Justice and Equity?

Cornell University
Stephen C. Rea

Reflections on the "Financial Inclusion of the Poor," Workshop in Karachi (Part One): Decolonizing Financial Inclusion

Habib University - Karachi, Pakistan
Noman Baig

Reflections on the "Financial Inclusion of the Poor," Workshop in Karachi (Part Two): Decolonizing Financial Inclusion

Habib University - Karachi, Pakistan
Noman Baig

Drama in the Payments Infrastructure and Saturation in Financial Education: Discussing New Avenues of Research Around Financial Inclusion in Colombia

ICESI University - Cali, Colombia
Maria Elisa Balen and Edgar Benítez

Continuing the Conversations about "Financial Inclusions" in Latin America - onto Mexico

Ciesas Occidente - Guadalajara, Mexico
Magdalena Villareal, Maria Elisa Balen, and Soléne Morvant-Roux

Video on Remittances, E-Money, and Mobile Banking: The Migratory Corridor between Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast

Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire
Benoît Ogni-Kanga, Solène Morvant-Roux, and Simon Barussaud


The Mobile Money Revolution That Has Not Come: Report on Displaced Peasant Families in Rural Colombia
Maria Elisa Balen, Sonia Laguna and Rosa Guerrero

The Last Mile or The Informal Ecosystem for Balancing Monies
Solène Morvant-Roux, Simon Barussaud, Stéphane Reuse, Camille Compaoré and Ilboudo Dieudonné

My Smart Phone is a Love Trophy: On Boyfriend-Girlfriend Negotiations and the Tensions between Adults and Adolescent Girls in Digital Nigeria
Jude Kenechi Onyima and Chinedu Francis Egbunike

Would You Pay More for Soap When Purchasing with Mobile Money?
Jean Lee, Jonathan Morduch, Abu Shonchoy

In Fast-Moving World of Money and Payments, Anthropology Finds a Niche
Jonathan Miller

Micro Insurance Claim Payments through Pre-Paid Cards: Technology and Regulation Driven Financial Inclusion in India
Debashis Acharya and Tapas K. Parida

Part One: In Every Economic Crisis Comes Business Opportunity Bombay 5-6 Lenders and the Micro-Entrepreneurs in Tacloban City, Philippines
Rosalita M. Dula and Marilou P. Grego

Part Two: Up Close with Informal Money Lending - Loan Negotiation Practices Between Bombay 5-6 Lenders and Micro-Entrepreneurs in Tacloban City, Philippines
Rosalita M. Dula and Marilou P. Grego

Part Three: Informal Loan Trap - Bombay 5-6 Lending's Effect on Micro-Entrepreneurs in Tacloban City, Philippines
Rosalita M. Dula and Marilou P. Grego

Valuing Migrants and their Money
Carol Chan

Strange Intersections: Humans, Technology and Insects in a Himalayan Valley
Kabir Mansingh Heimsath

Remittance Technology Models: African Innovations for Southeast Asia?
Ivan Small

Paying Behind the Great Firewall: Maurer Plays Marco Polo (Part 1)
Bill Maurer

Financial Inclusion: Integrating the Poor into the World Economy - A Look at Migrant Laborers in a Karachi Marketplace and How They Move Money
Noman Baig

Barriers to a Single European Payments Market: Cultural-Economic Feedback Loops
Erin B. Taylor

Advancing Gender Equality with Mobile Money - Conferencing in Tanzania
Milcah Mulu-Mutuku

Yet Another Cashlite Stumbling Block: "Alarming" Fraud and Mobile Money Uptake in Ghana
Vivian Dzokoto and John Kojo Aggrey

(Dis)Trust in Mobile Money in Ghana: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
Vivian Dzokoto and John Kojo Aggrey

Pastoral Adaptation to Market Opportunities and Changing Gender Roles among the Afar in Ethiopia
Uthman Hassen

Marching into Hong Kong: Maurer Plays Marco Polo (Part 2)
Bill Maurer

See past issues of the enews.

University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA 92697-5100