The last five years have seen an extraordinary number of poor people starting to use digital financial services via their cell phones in one way or another. My work in specific countries and with businesses makes me optimistic that this trend will continue. And, as we all now know well, in that same time period, even more people have acquired their first phone and SIM card and joined the ranks of the over five billion cell phone users.
Great article! I enjoyed reading your perspective on the massive streams of digital data that are increasingly available from unbanked/underbanked populations globally. It will be interesting to see how public and private sector actors organize, visualize and actively use this data for positive impact.
You may be interesting in reading our latest Mondato newsletter on “Harnessing Mobile Data for Financial Inclusion,” in which we cited your article: http://bit.ly/QtGnhQ. I would be interested in your comments or feedback on the newsletter content.
Media Editor | Mondato LLC
Would digital data mining for inclusion be limited to demographics of the poor or focused on communication content? Much as the content is rich with psychographic value, its authenticity is something to think about. What of the exaggeration that comes with financial support seeking, the sympathy seeking statements and the rest. Even with permission to use data from the owner, it still smacks of eaves dropping or social economic espionage as someone will use the data to make money that shall not end in the data owners pockets. Well, the data, it will be said, will be used to empower the same poor through the creation of products the poor use but hey, has face to face interviews failed to warrant data espionage or is it an attempt at shortcuts?
The idea is creative though. I am yet to believe that enough has not been said about the poor so far( Rutherford and his two books Portfolios of the Poor and ‘The Poor and Their Money are masterpieces). We need to read the results of the researches done so far and get down on designing products for the poor. We shouldn’t always feel that another research needs to be done and another and another–. We should be busy piloting products rather than researching with no end. What is the use of research results if we shall not use them for products development!
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