What is Mobile Money?

Accessible Banking for the Rural Malawian Poor

Mobile money agent in Tanzania; photo by Fiona Graham

Mobile money will change what is possible for the rural poor.

Orant is excited to promote the use of mobile money. Especially in our Financially Empowering Microloans (FEM) for Women Program

Orant’s FEM for Women Program supports 15 women. We provide no interest loans to aid in their business ventures. In the past, Orant exchanged manual cash loans. This meant FEM for Women participants had to travel to Orant’s campus to collect and repay loans. It also meant they had to carry cash when travelling. This year, Orant has transitioned to electronic transfers. As  a result,  women don’t have to leave their place of business to repay their loans. They can do it from their mobile phones. 

What is mobile money?

Banking via cellphone. People can send and receive money, pay bills, and transact with other banks. All from the convenience of a mobile phone. Since the technology is installed in a SIM card, it doesn’t require internet. It also doesn’t require affiliation with a formalized bank. This is game-changing for the rural poor.

Benefits of Mobile Money:

  1. Accessibility

Money can be transferred almost everywhere. Including hard to reach rural areas with no formal banks. Mobile money agents provide person-to-person contact. In other words, they train those who are unfamiliar with the technology.

  1. Financial Security

Mobile money allows for cashless payments. This lessens risks of cash handling. Ie: loss, theft, fraud.

  1. Low Transaction Costs

Compared to bank charges, mobile money platforms have low transaction costs.

  1. Time Saving

People can access money services without travelling long distances. Or standing in lines. They can also safely send money to family members who are geographically distant.

What Mobile Money Means for Women in Malawi

Agency. The freedom to manage their own financial lives. It means they, not their husbands or fathers, can choose how to spend their hard-earned money. Why is this important? Studies in Kenya showed that access to mobile money increased household consumption and savings. Therefore, it reduced poverty. And (drumroll, please) the effects were largest in female-headed households.

For many women, there’s still a learning curve.

Managing finances is new. Mobile money is even newer. Orant is here to help with that. By requiring mobile money for loan transfers, Orant incentivizes women to use it. We also provide training and support with the help of Hey Sister, Show Me the Mobile Money.

When women have access to technology like mobile money, the impact is immense. 

The Orant Journal