Mobile money networks are seen as an important pathway to financial inclusion in countries with less developed financial sectors. However, digital financial services through mobile money rely on a network of agents who need to have sufficient balances of e-money or physical cash on hand, known as “float,” to meet the needs of their clients to cash in or cash out e-money. Financial management of these agent networks could affect not only the agents themselves, who are also typically small business owners, but also the extent to which digital financial services benefit end-users. The research team is partnering with a mobile money provider to investigate the impacts of digital loans issued to mobile money agents. The researchers will use transaction data and additional surveys to measure the impact of digital credit on mobile money activity and the micro and small enterprises operated by mobile money agents, 80% of whom are women. They will investigate whether the loan can empower female agents in the context of their businesses, households, and communities. Further, they will investigate whether the allocation of extra float to female agents, who may have superior information on the economic needs of women, may lead to increased allocation of transaction opportunities to women. Results forthcoming.
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