Around the globe, various initiatives use the mobile phone to provide financial services to those without access to traditional banks. Yet relatively little scholarly research explores the use of these m-banking/m-payments systems. This paper calls attention to this gap in the research literature, emphasizing the need for research focusing on the context(s) of m-banking/m-payments use.
Presenting illustrative data from exploratory work with small enterprises in urban India, it argues that contextual research is a critical input to effective “adoption” or “impact” research.
Further, it suggests that the challenges of linking studies of use to those of adoption and impact reflect established dynamics within the Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD) research community.
The paper identifies three crosscutting themes from the broader literature—amplification vs. change, simultaneous causality, and a multi-dimensional definition of trust—each of which can offer increased theoretical clarity to future research on m-banking/m-payments systems.