13 December 2008

New institute to explore how world’s poor use technology to spend, store and save money

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Kenya banking
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded UC Irvine a $1.7 million grant to create a new research institute focused on the growing use of mobile technology in providing banking and financial services to people in developing countries.

The Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion will be the first to explore how the world’s poorest people spend, store and save money. The institute will study how these habits are affected by the emerging mobile banking industry, known as “m-banking,” which could make financial services and the security they provide available to millions of poor people for the first time.

It also will fund research in developing countries, host conferences and provide scholarships to those who conduct such research. An archive on the emerging m-banking industry for use by researchers in the U.S. and around the world also is being planned. […]

UCI anthropologist Bill Maurer will serve as the institute’s founding director. He is widely known for his research on the anthropology of money, finance, law and property.

The institute officially launched Thursday, Sept. 18, at the beginning of the “Everyday Digital Money” workshop, that Putting People First reported on earlier.

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