Project Year



Latin America and the Caribbean



Project Description

In November 2010, Digicel and Voilá both made mobile money services publicly available in Haiti. Building upon our previous research on domestic remittances and financial practices, we returned to Haiti from December to April to identify mobile money’s potentials and challenges given the specific characteristics of the mobile money services offered and the needs of the Haitian population. This report presents our analysis of how the new mobile money services fit into Haiti's existing socioeconomic environment, and how customers are adapting and using the services. We identify six key insights and make recommendations for the development of mobile money in Haiti.


Heather Horst, Erin Taylor, Espelencia Baptiste, Hermes Baez

About the Researcher(s)

researcherDr. Heather Horst is a sociocultural anthropologist at the UC Humanities Research Institute, University of California, Irvine. She studies the relationship between place, space and new media in the Caribbean and North America. She is the co-author of The Cell Phone: An Anthropology of Communication (Horst and Miller, 2006), the first ethnography of new communication technologies and poverty in the developing world, and Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media (Ito, et. al. 2009). Heather holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology (Material Culture Studies emphasis) from University College London.

researcherDr. Erin Taylor is a Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Sydney, Australia. Her edited book, Fieldwork Identities in the Caribbean (2010, Caribbean Studies Press), explores the complexities involved in researchers’ negotiations of their identity in the field. Taylor’s research concerns the politics of place and poverty in a squatter settlement in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Her article, “Poverty as Danger: Fear of Crime in Santo Domingo” (2009, International Journal of Cultural Studies) discusses how the material appearance of Santo Domingo’s squatter settlements contributes to their criminalization, and how residents respond to this discourse of fear. A second article, “From el campo to el barrio: Memory and Social Imaginaries in Santo Domingo,” analyses how rural to urban migrants draw upon their former identities as rural dwellers to construct a place of belonging in the city. Her website is: She's co-author on the report: Female Finance: Digital, Mobile, Networked. EWPN and Keen Innovation.

Dr. Espelencia Baptiste is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at Kalamazoo College. She is author of a book (under contract) titled Africa’s Paradise: Creole Citizenship in Post-Colonial Mauritius. Haitian by birth, she speaks and writes four languages, and her areas of specialization include anthropology of education, ethnicity and nationalism, Diasporas, Creole societies, and language and culture.

Research Assistant:

Hermes Báez is researcher in social anthropology from the School of History at the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo with field work practice at the Dominican Republic.  He has designed surveys studies and qualitative research for universities, non-gubernamental and privates companies. He also has visited all 32 provinces of the Dominican Republic, letting him to know by first hand the way of life of the dominican society. He has colaborated on research teams about sexual behavior of young population, and dominicans living in bateyes from haitian descendents. He has colaborated in the design of resettlement of rural communities with World Bank standards and have co-organized two research forum for professors of the Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo.

Synopsis of Research Results

Link to Erin Taylor, Espelencia Baptiste, and Heather Horst's "Mobile Money in Haiti: Potentials and Challenges"

Link to Espelencia Baptiste, Heather Horst, and Erin Taylor's "Haitian Monetary Ecologies and Repertoires: A Qualitative Snapshot of Money Transfer and Savings"

Link to their blog post: The Social Nature of Security and Haiti's Mobile Money


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