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Technology for economic growth: How mobile money expands financial inclusion in Malawi

A Q&A with Carrie Hasselback, FHI 360 Project Director, Mobile Money Accelerator Program (MMAP)

June 10, 2014

Through the Mobile Money Accelerator Program, FHI 360 is working to increase the use of mobile money and to expand financial inclusion among populations who lack adequate access to formal financial institutions. MMAP is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Q: What is mobile money?

A: Mobile money is currency stored on your mobile phone. Typically, a customer will bring cash to a local agent who deposits the cash onto the customer’s phone in the form of mobile money. Agents are also able to withdraw money from a customer’s phone and provide cash. These agents, often local shopkeepers, are selected and trained by mobile network operators.

Q: Why is mobile money important?

A: An overwhelming majority of Malawi’s population lives in rural areas, where agriculture is the source of income for more than 85 percent of the population, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). A 2009 FinScope Demand Survey found that 55 percent of Malawians do not have access to any type of financial institution, and only 19 percent of the total population uses a formal bank. Because bank accounts are so rare, mobile money offers an accessible alternative for safely depositing, withdrawing, transferring and even saving money.

Q: Why has mobile money been adopted so quickly in Malawi?

A: FHI 360’s Mobile Money Accelerator Program has been working to create an environment that is ready to receive and adopt mobile money systems. We provide financial literacy trainings that help increase understanding and acceptance of mobile money.

The Government of Malawi has shown its support by signing and participating in the Better Than Cash Alliance, which aims to transition government cash payments to electronic payments in an effort to increase transparency and expand financial inclusion across the country.


- This piece originally appeared on FHI 360's Degrees Blog. For the complete text, please visit: