A Conversation on the Weekly Wonk: Should We Bank On It?

Blog Post
Sept. 12, 2013

If you haven't had a chance yet to check out New America's new digital magazine, the Weekly Wonk, have a look. This is an institution-wide effort so the content you'll find there comes from all of our varying policy programs. The magazine will be published every Thursday, and you can sign up to receive it via email on our homepage.

This week's edition featured a conversation among Jamie Zimmerman, director of New America’s Global Assets Project (GAP) and co-author of the just-released “Beyond the Buzz: The Allure and Challenge of using Mobile Phones to Increase Youth Financial Inclusion,” Hibah Hussain, policy program associate at New America’s Open Technology Institute and author of the policy paper “Dialing Down Risks: Mobile Privacy and Information Security in Global Development Projects,” and Eric Tyler, a GAP research fellow.

On the Weekly Wonk:

Imagine a 10-year-old girl in Nepal stashing her weekly allowance not under a floorboard in her room, but in a banking app on her mobile phone. It’s a win-win-win: She’s building assets, averting notorious local banking corruption, and learning tech skills. It’s easy to see why the potential for mobile finance has development experts all over the world drooling. But is that utopian narrative more hype than help? To find out, we convened three analysts for a discussion on whether we should bank on mobile finance to lift youth in the developing world out of poverty.

Jamie, let’s start with you. Your new paper is on the allure and challenge of mobile finance as a way to make banking more accessible to young people in the developing world . Why is mobile such an attractive solution to combat poverty?

Click here to read the rest of the conversation.