Research & Analysis

The Power of Social Networks to Drive Mobile Money Adoption

The rate of mobile money (MM) adoption among poor people remains low. However, the mechanisms driving adoption are similar to those of other segments. By comparing data from three countries, this study identifies and explores the key drivers of MM adoption. Innovative analytics and data mining techniques were used: a data set of 7 billion transactions (phone calls, SMS, data) performed by more than 10 million mobile phone users over seven months was processed.

The analysis revealed two key variables that indicate a higher propensity to adopt MM. The first variable is the social network and social interactions of the mobile user. That is, the number of MM users an individual is connected to (people whom the user connects to via phone or SMS). Individuals with five MM connections are over 3.5 times more likely to adopt MM than individuals with only one MM connection.

In addition, the more active MM users are, the more likely their non-MM connections are to adopt MM. For instance, active MM users who do twice as many transactions as other users are likely to have double the number of MM adopters among their connections. The second key variable is the user’s telecom usage profile (most notably, the quantity and variety of telecom products used—SMS, data, electronic top-ups, and voice). Adopters tend to call twice as much as nonadopters, send twice as many SMS, rely more on electronic recharges than scratch cards for airtime credit (albeit via agents), and use more data than nonadopters. For the purposes of this paper we refer to this segment as “technology leaders”. In addition, technology leaders’ telecom expenditures are approximately three to four times higher than that of nonadopters.