Mobile Phone Cash Transfers

This week marks the beginning of a new program in Haiti, commissioned by UNDP and developed by Digicel, in which those affected by the 2010 earthquakes can receive cash subsidies to put towards construction supplies to be used in rebuilding homes.  As stated in the article, two-thirds of the population have access to a mobile phone, while only 10 percent have bank accounts.  Utilizing a mobile phone to act as a personal banking system allows individuals to not only provide security and convenience over carrying around large sums of money, but also empower individuals to better their own lives.

The program does raise questions about the digital divide within the country though.  The digital divide may be increased in this situation do to the selection process of those with mobile phones, a lack of service for the most poor with a mobile phone, and the location of centers providing materials and training.  All of these create more opportunities for certain individuals while neglecting others.  Despite these possibilities, this program still is a great way to provide much needed resources directly to the individuals affected by disaster.

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One response to “Mobile Phone Cash Transfers

  • kmurphy318

    This is similar to what they’ve been doing in Africa! I think its a really great idea, and has a lot of potential in many developing countries. The problem though, as always, is those without access to the mobile phone being at a disadvantage. I hope that this program set up a way for those who can’t afford a cellular phone to benefit from these subsidies. I also wonder if their have been any technical difficulties that mess up the transfer of money, that happens all too often in this country for me to think there haven’t been!

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