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from the Director
This is the first issue of the Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion (IMTFI) Electronic Newsletter. We hope you enjoy the analysis and commentary below, selected from recent studies by our network of researchers around the world. Founded in 2008, IMTFI to date has supported over 100 researchers in 36 countries, and is one of the only places you can find research on people's everyday saving, lending and money transfer practices as well as the impact of mobile and other technologies on their lives and livelihoods. From understanding the transformation of people's ideas about money and modernity in Papua New Guinea, to the dilemmas of designing of mobile money services for the visually impaired in Kenya, to the regulatory and cultural barriers to adoption of mobile money in countries ranging from the Philippines, South Africa and Ecuador, IMTFI brings diverse regional, disciplinary, academic and industry perspectives together for dialogue and debate on the potential of mobile money in the developing world, and beyond. We will issue this newsletter quarterly to keep you abreast of some of our latest findings and to inform you of IMTFI events and activities. This quarter, we spotlight research from India and Ethiopia, as well as a new partnership with Sicap in Indonesia. Next quarter we will highlight new collaborations with some of our industry partners: frog design in Afghanistan and India, and Debisys in Latin America. We are also pleased to announce our fourth Call for Proposals! See below for details.
IMTFI at the British Museum
The British Museum opened its new Citi Money Gallery featuring a selection of money-related objects contributed by IMTFI researchers. The gallery spans 4000 years of the history and forms of money, including the world's first coins, early examples of paper currency, counterfeit money, and traditional jewelry made of money. Among this plethora of objects sit two display cases contributed by IMTFI with items representing contemporary forms of money, from money boxes and piggy banks to credit cards and mobile payment systems. The selection includes a wooden money box from India, donated by Mani Nandhi; a clay money box from Nigeria, donated by Isaac Oluwatayo; a Haitian mobile phone that can send and receive money via text message, and a special pair of women's undergarments with hidden pockets for cash donated by Erin Taylor, Espelencia Baptiste and Heather Horst.
To learn more about the exhibit, read the reflections of IMTFI researcher Erin Taylor in her recent blog post.
Social Relations and Payments in Ethiopia
Our two most recent working papers are available to download from our website. In Understanding Social Relationships and Payments among Poor Individuals in Ethiopia, IMTFI researcherWoldmariam Mesfin provides a rich analysis of the diverse range of social and payments practices in rural Ethiopia - informal savings and loan institutions, money gifts, payments to deities - that pose both challenges and opportunities for mobile money service design.
Mobile Banking Improving Saving Habits - The Indian Experience
A study by IMTFI researcher Mani Nandhi explores the complex effects of one of the leading mobile money services in India, EKO's Simplibank. The study centers on the experiences of low-income mobile money users in India's capital, Delhi. Nandhi argues that, in addition to providing a lower cost and more efficient system for saving in small amounts, EKO mobile accounts are also improving their users' saving and spending habits. Click to read the executive summary or the full report of the study. Photo courtesy of eko.co.in.
Read these and previous working papers from our researchers here.
Nandhi's earlier project, "The Urban Poor and Their Money: A Study of Cycle Rickshaw Pullers in Delhi," also supported by IMTFI, was recently cited in a CGAP Microfinance blog post on "Understanding Financial Needs of Urban Migrants."
COLLABORATIVE PROJECTS AND PUBLIC ENGAGEMENTS
Partnering with Sicap in Indonesia
How can we ensure that technology serves the needs of society? This broad question, writes Tom Boellstorff, is at the heart of a new research project led by IMTFI in partnership with the mobile software company Sicap. The project aims to understand the interface between mobile social media and payments in Indonesia. With research teams based in two major cities in Indonesia, the project will look into the impact of the rapidly expanding landscape of social media and mobile technology in the sphere of payments.
To learn more about the project, read Boellstorff's full post here.
Reflections on the Ecology of Payment Platforms in East Africa
A recent study by iHub, a technology research organization based in Kenya, shows that - despite the low-cost and higher efficiency of mobile payment platforms such as M-Pesa, a large majority of people in Kenya continue to prefer queuing for payment orders. This seeming paradox, writes IMTFI director, Bill Maurer in an editorial for iHub, suggests that perhaps inefficiency and low-cost are not the only criteria we should be considering when gauging how people make choices about their spending. Instead, Maurer argues, our task as researchers and/or as technology innovators is to understand how people value and compare different payment platforms, when and how new platforms become trustworthy and widely used, and how these platforms are modified or redesigned through people's experience on the ground.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS
New Call for Proposals is Out!
It's that time of year: IMTFI's call for new research proposals for research taking place between 2013-14 is out, so tell your friends and colleagues to apply. The deadline for submitting the online applications is November 26, 2012.
Read the full call here.
October 2012: IMTFI Money Exhibit at UCI's Langson Library
On a smaller-scale from the British Museum's Citi Money Gallery the UC Irvine Libraries are pleased to present an exhibition titled, "Gold to Gigabytes: The Past, Present and Future of Money." The exhibit will be on display in UC Irvine's Langson Library from October 2012 to April 2013. IMTFI director, Bill Maurer, and British Museum curator, Catherine Eagleton, will open the exhibit with a public reception and lecture on October 5.