Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion Customer Insights into Mobile Phone Usage and Money Bill Maurer Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Irvine Director, IMTFI
About the Institute Founded Fall, 2008 Has issued 2 of 3 CFPs to fund original research in developing world countries on money and technology CFP1: 25 researchers, 17 projects, 14 countries CFP2: 23 researchers, 18 projects, 17 countries Most researchers are from the countries where they are conducting research
Research Methods and Approaches Multi-Method : About 1/3 of the researchers are anthropologists Another 1/3 are economists Quantitative and qualitative Emphasis on long-term, ethnographic component to the research Qualitative, multi-method, long-term
Filling in the Gaps Case 1: Konda Reddis State currency seen as useful for short-term obligations, not long-term investment Forest holds symbolic significance; forestry brings revenue Planting trees vs. saving money Savings?
Filling in the Gaps Case 2: Chiapas Spending large sums of money on grave decoration… … demonstrates to everyone that you still have a claim to your dead ancestor’s land. Insurance?
Supplement the “Portfolio” Portfolios of the Poor : focused solely on “financial rather than physical wealth” because households’ physical assets changed very little over time, while cash and other financial assets varied dramatically Money was “where the action is”? where the action is?
When might it make sense to have an “illiquidity preference”?
What is the overarching goal here?
Get people into the formal banking system using state-issued currency?
And/Or help alleviate poverty by facilitating people’s “savings,” making their savings less expensive, more secure, etc.?
Listen to the researchers themselves… “ There were times you went to the bank repeatedly to make withdrawal, only to be told that the bank had no money. I didn’t have much then, hence [when the bank failed] I did not lose any significant amount of money. But the experience made [me] mistrust the banks and opt to keep monies at home.”
And: State currencies are not only “money” Just like phones are not only for talking IMTFI researchers are discovering a host of monetary practices that do not always involve the store of value, means of exchange, method of payment, or measure of value functions And that disaggregate / de-bundle those functions
And: Money has a “personality” People earmark and sequester . But they also identify different cash streams with different characteristics “ Government payments are for school; Remittance money is for houses; Loans are for equipment; Flower money is for clothes.”
Monetary Ecologies currency = a state-issued, local, or commodity item which assumes some of all of the functions of money (e.g., the US dollar, Ithaca HOUR, or gold ingot, respectively). quasi-currency = sometimes but not always functions as money (e.g., livestock, land). para-currency = works in conjunction with a currency or quasi-currency (a loyalty card or coupon which can be used in exchange for goods). Haiti: Food coupons ( New York Times 2/2/10)
Monetary Repertoires people use multiple currencies as stores of wealth or means of exchange, not just one they make social payments (for funerals, weddings, as special gifts, for religious purposes) even under the guise of economic transactions they convert from one system to another often with amazing rapidity they have ambivalent relationships to state currencies, and sometimes use more than one
Everyday Innovation you can talk to a g-cash business dev representative. they have an api to the e-wallet that might fit your needs.the other workaround is via a merchant sim connected to a gsm modem. or if it’s for testing purposes, a regular g-cash registered sim. Important to remember that people do all sorts of things with systems – monetary or technological “ Everyday, routine innovation” When does P2P transfer become “savings”? (T+2? T+3?)
And: Money is just plain weird Lucky numbers and money magic Different scales for people of different rank Different standards of value for different circumstances or different people Even our most quantitatively oriented researchers have been stumped by the “calculative rationalities” of the people they study
Calculative Rationalities Example 1: Southern Sudan “ Before the CPA was signed, it was easy, but right now you have the burden of selling in Sudanese Pounds. [One must] convert actually the [microloan] money first of all in dollars, then go into Uganda and get in Uganda Shillings and make your purchases. So whether you like it or not, you are going to convert your currency three times and will experience losses. So they will always complain….they want to find options out of this. But I tell them—we are not the government of Southern Sudan. Definitely, there’s no way we can disburse Dollars, we cannot disburse Uganda Shillings and we have no way around this.” $100 USD note ≠ 5 X $20 USD note “ This place is complicated!”
Calculative Rationalities Example 2: Igbo oracular deities “ Whilst the hiring and leasing of assets are an integral part of the deities’ credit system, the monies realized from all the ‘business-oriented’ activities are… used for money-lending and procuring sacrificial items for the deities.” The deities like things in 2s. They also like palm oil. But you have to add the right “extra dash” depending on your own rank. Death to Defaulters