Mobile banking – farmers helped by a bank on a phone
source : Financial Times
On 10th October, Vodafone, one of the major global telephone companies, presented the results of “Connected Agriculture”, a study carried out by the Accenture consultancy firm on the impact of mobile phones on farmers’ living conditions in 26 countries throughout the world (12 mobile phone applications). The report estimates a potential revenue increase of 11% by 2020, or 138 billion dollars, including 51 billion dollars coming from financial services via mobile phone, or “mobile banking”.
Mobile phones bring three types of benefit, according to the study. Firstly, they make it easier for microfinance services, whether microcredit or money transfer (cf; the Kenyan service M-Pesa), to help farmers. Mobile phones can also provide real-time information services via text messaging: weather reports, price of foodstuffs on the market, etc., which help improve farmers’ productivity. Thirdly, they can provide technical assistance services (e.g., telephone advice about pest control).
Jeffrey Sachs, author of the book “The end of Poverty”, declared: “The mobile phone is the single most transformative technology for development.” However, as the Financial Times blog calculated, at the end of the day, the figures shown by the Accenture study represent an annual revenue increase for farmers of only 1.2%. So it’s an extremely useful technology, but far from sufficient to change living conditions for those who use it.
You can find our feature article on microfinance and new technologies on MicroWorld.