Bath Papers in International Development and Wellbeing No. 41
The rapid adoption of mobile money transfer (MMT) in East Africa, and Kenya in particular, is facilitating a nexus of inter-personal financial transfers which has hitherto been the least visible dimension of informal finance. At the same time, the success of capturing these flows into a formal service has raised significant enthusiasm that mobile money transactions represent an effective route to inclusion in the formal financial sector. This paper examines this claim through an in-depth qualitative and ethnolinguistic investigation of the everyday concepts and practices of resource exchange. It identifies a focus on relationships rather than resources as at the centre of these informal practices. This suggests a gap between these exchange practices and those of the resource-focussed formal sector. These contrasting perspectives suggest that there is much scope for misunderstanding in developing routes to financial inclusion making it particularly important to appreciate emic perspectives.
mobile money informal finance microfinance financial practices financial inclusion Kenya sub-Saharan Africa