Bloomberg Businessweek:
Each week, Bloomberg Businessweek asks a different economist to recommend one good paper - research, new or old, that should be on our reading list. In this first installment, Bill Maurer, an anthropological economist at the University of California at Irvine, chose Mobile Money, More Freedom? (PDF) by Kevin Donovan of the University of Cape Town… Since its launch in Kenya in 2007, M-PESA has emerged as a standard for mobile money in developing markets. The service, developed by Safaricom, Kenya’s dominant mobile carrier, allows customers to pay hard cash to a physical agent in return for a code. The code can then be given to one of 20,000 Safaricom agents anywhere else in the country, and redeemed again for cash. And by 2011, four years after launch, a little more than one in three Kenyans had registered an account. Bill Maurer, who runs the Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion at University of California, Irvine, is impressed by the innovation that surrounds the service. “But gosh,” he says, “wouldn’t it be great if there was a competitor?”

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