Is mobile money changing rural Africa? Evidence from a field experiment

Mobile money agent in Gulu, northern Uganda (Credit: Fiona Graham/WorldRemit/Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)
Mobile money agent in Gulu, northern Uganda (Credit: Fiona Graham/WorldRemit/Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)
Written by Arichika Okazaki

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What is the economic impact of newly introducing mobile money in rural areas underserved by financial services? In this webinar, Cátia Batista presents the findings from the first randomised controlled trial to answer this question.

Following a sample of rural communities in Southern Mozambique, experimental results show that the availability of mobile money translated into clear adoption of these services, measured through administrative data on mobile money transactions. The study finds that mobile money improved consumption smoothing by treated households, that is, they became less vulnerable to adverse weather and self-reported shocks. However, mobile money also led to reduced investment, especially in agriculture. The study documents increases in the number of migrants in a household and in the migrant remittances received by rural households particularly in the presence of adverse shocks, while there are no clear effects on savings. Results are interpreted as evidence that, by drastically reducing the transaction costs associated with migrant remittances and improving migration-based insurance possibilities, mobile money acted as a facilitator of migration from rural to urban areas.


Cátia Batista is Associate Professor of Economics at the Nova School of Business and Economics, where she is also Founder and Scientific Director of the NOVAFRICA research centre. She holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the Department of Economics of the University of Chicago. Cátia has research interests related to international migration and remittance flows, financial inclusion, entrepreneurship, technology adoption, education and policy evaluation.

The event will be a public webinar and will be recorded. The recording will be made available after the event through the Development Policy Centre website.

Arichika Okazaki

Arichika Okazaki is a Program Officer at the Development Policy Centre.

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