Mobile Money: a book to read, and two videos to watch

In keeping with the theme established at the Barcelona MMU working group of ‘understanding the mobile money customer’, I’ve posted some suggested reading and viewing material. The book, Portfolios of the Poor, and two videos from the Philippines provide valuable insights into the financial lives of the unbanked.

1. Portfolios of the Poor
For those looking for more data-driven findings like the ones presented at the working group, this book will be a valuable resource. From the author’s website:

Portfolios of the Poor: How the World’s Poor Live on $2 a Day tackles the fundamental question of how the poor make ends meet. Over 250 families in Bangladesh, India, and South Africa participated in this unprecedented study of the financial practices of the world’s poor.

Indispensable for those in development studies, economics, and microfinance, Portfolios of the Poor will appeal to anyone interested in knowing more about poverty and what can be done about it.

These households were interviewed every two weeks over the course of a year, reporting on their most minute financial transactions. This book shows that many poor people have surprisingly sophisticated financial lives, saving and borrowing with an eye to the future and creating complex “financial portfolios” of formal and informal tools.

Check out the website to learn more or order a copy online.

2. Use of G- cash in Cantilan, Philippines
This video profiles the use of G-Cash in Cantilan, a Filipino farming and fishing community 5 hours away from the nearest operational airport. The video features interviews with customers (there are 8,900 in Cantilan) and agents from a few of the 60+ small businesses, including pharmacies, bakeries, restaurants, who accept G-Cash as a payment method.

3. Microfinance: From Manual to Mobile Enabled (SMART)
This video provides a glimpse into the role that mobile money can play in microfinance loan disbursement and cash collection. A couple quotes from the video set this context effectively:

Loan Officer: “From Monday to Friday, I attend and manage a total of 15 centres. The smallest daily cash amount I carry is 30,000 Pesos. All these monies are just in my bag.”

Borrower: “One time, there was a stranger observing from afar how we collected the money. We thought he was a robber, so Ma’am (Loan Officer) hid the money. He even came closer to check what we were doing and we were very scared. It’s scary once our Loan Officer already has all the collection. After our meetings, we arrange for my brother, who has a tricycle, to bring Ma’am to her next meeting.”

Something else you think the mobile money community should read or watch? Feel free to post below.

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