Mobile Money

This project was centred around a comparative ethnographic study into the usage, perceptions and attitudes towards mobile money in four countries.

Click here to read the industry facing report ‘A sense of inclusion. An ethnographic study of the perceptions and attitudes to digital financial services in Sub-Saharan Africa’ (December 2017). The extended final report of the research project can be downloaded here.

See also IFC’s press release and an article about the study in ‘International Finance’.

‘Mobile Money’ is part of a larger-scale project run by an ‘IFC-MasterCard Foundation Partnership’ in which they aim to accelerate delivery of financial services in Sub-Saharan Africa through the significant scaling up of eight of IFC’s strongest microfinance partners in Africa. More specifically, they want to understand what role Microfinance Institutions and Mobile Network Operators can play in the digital finance eco-system and the business case for mobile money channels in MFIs.

Within this, the “Partnership” is interested in documenting the evolution of  Mobile Financial Services from a customer perspective using qualitative methods to better understand the perceptions, attitudes and usages of customers in Africa. The result of this research will help IFC to design more targeted and successful m-banking pilots with MFIs, as well as share lessons learned with the broader development community on what works and what does not, as well as what the costs and benefits of mobile channels are for its users.

The project, carried out by the ASC and its partners, is an innovative attempt to bring together anthropologists, young (African) research talent and key players in the industry.

Little critical research has been done on the developmental approach to the expansion of financial services for the poor. A lot of past studies have been conducted by groups that stand to directly benefit from positive assumptions, an issue which this project aims to address.

The approach is explicitly an ethnographic one in which case studies will be carried out in Congo DRC (Kinshasa & Lubumbashi), Cameroon (Bamenda & Baaba), Zambia (Kitwe, Lusaka & Southern Province, in cooperation with the Southern African Institute for Policy and Research SAIPAR) and Senegal (Dakar & Louga, in cooperation with the Laboratoire de Recherche sur les Transformations Economiques et Sociales (LARTES-IFAN). In each country a team has been set-up who will be responsible for carrying out fieldwork and delivering output. In this sense, the project is very much a mix between academic research and consultancy.

For more information please contact Inge Butter (