Mobile money would transform even more lives in poor countries if regulators got out of the way


Mobile-money services are especially useful in developing countries. A worker in the city can send money to his family in the village without having to waste a day travelling on a rickety bus. Indeed, he can pay his family’s household bills directly from his phone. It is safer too: nobody wants to carry wads of currency on public transport.

Mobile money also gives its users-many of whom are poor and have no access to banks-a way to save small amounts of money. A World Bank report found that M-PESA users are a third more likely to have some savings than their peers. Mobile transactions are more traceable than cash, making it harder for corrupt officials to embezzle undetected. And lately Kenya has discovered a further benefit: the success of M-PESA has provided the foundation for a group of start-ups in Nairobi that are building new products and services on top of it (see article).

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