Design Expo 2014: Online Discussion - ICT and Social Impact

This online panel discussion at 3.30 UK time on Wednesday 11 June will explore the following questions:

  1. What are some of the ways in which the huge growth in mobile phones is benefitting people at the BoP?
  2. What are some of key challenges and success factors in rolling out ICT innovations among low-income consumers?
  3. Looking ahead, what are some of big opportunties for large scale impact through ICT?

Panelists include: Paulo Mele, Esoko; Michael Nique and Kai-lik Foh, GSMA; Anna Levy, Frontline SMS; Mike Quinn, ZOONA; Doug Ricket, SVTP.

Editor's Note:

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This event is part of the Business Fights Poverty Design Expo 2014. Running from 9 to 13 June,  the Design Expo is an online celebration of products, services and business models transforming the lives of poor people.  The Design Expo is a collaboration with iDE UK and is being supported by the UK's Department for International Development.

The Expo will include a vibrant mix of blogs, Google Hangouts, online panel discussions, a Twitter Jam and a virtual exhibition zone. Each day we will focus on a different sector: Energy (9 June), Health (10 June), Communications (11 June), Livelihoods (including enterprise, finance and agriculture) (12 June) and Water & Sanitation (13 June).

From Monday 9 June, you will be able to access all the activities via the Design Expo landing page,  Participation in the Design Expo is free.  You will simply need to sign in (or sign up for free) to Business Fights Poverty.


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Hie Courtney, for discussion's sake I would say first donors need to be of similar mind and pool information resources together say when project proposals are written. However this does not happen I feel the is a donor one donor for them self thinking and protection of "private information"

It's also important to clarify that increased access and participation to a variety of civic, economic, and political systems has some value in and of itself...short of results-oriented impact, which is

Great here is my Email

Mobile Financial Services are exciting in the sense that they can be the mainstream channel for financial inclusion of a large fraction of underserved populations around the world. 

I think we will see more experimentation with Machine to Machine connectivity in the developing world to increase the flow of information between machines, humans and institutions.

Leveraging data collected through mobile phones or M2M could also lead to design better services and products for customers, while enabling new service such as credit rating based on mobile usage.

In addition to payments, I see a big opportunity in data. Transactions that were previously done with cash and paper by both individuals and small businesses without bank accounts and or any credit record can now be digitized. The data from these transactions can be used to segment and understand customers and develop new innovative products that meet their needs in ways that haven't been done before. This data will also be very valuable for companies targeting BOP markets and that want to understand and optimize their distribution channels. 

Michael, the very last point about credit ratings based on mobile usage is an interesting one! The others too, but this sounds pretty new, have you seen models where this is being implemented, particularly among individuals whose income is too low to warrant formal credit ratings?

Good point how do you structure a tariff? A questions we will definitely be facing soon as well. I am sure some of our more experienced colleges here my have answered these questions for their sectors at one point in time.

A major opportunity, which I'll pose as a question: how do you all see mobile bridging the gap between formal and informal economies?

I particularly liked Mike's story of mobile banking allowing consumers or small business owners to develop a trustworthy credit history that can qualify them for loans.

This is another example of leapfrogging, where the systems that grow up in developing economies may not mirror those in today's most developed countries, but in the end they reach a possibly even more efficient solution.

Continuing in that vein, I think mobile banking's enabling of trust and verification will be immensely valuable in areas where cash transactions have been the norm and there has been no way to know who paid whom.

Hi Liam

Not very many which I think needs rectifying.

We have done a number but the most significant we have done is an ongoing research project with NYU in Ghana.

They have been tracking 1200 farmers over nearly 3 years. Half got market price information on Cassava and half didn't. The group that got information to their mobiles phones achieved on average a 10% increase in prices achieved and over household income.

We are continuing this and now also looking as issue of transport costs.

True and this data could be very valuable to financial institutions

M2M -- yes!

For example, in the case of solar home systems, M2M communication (via a phone chip and sim card in the solar system) allows for the system to be enabled and disabled remotely, which facilitates pay-as-you-go.  But an unexpected benefit was how useful the information reporting through M2M could be, when the solar system tells the system administrator how much it is being used, how efficient it is, etc.  It can go so far as letting someone (or some computer) back at the office SMS the owner to say, "clean the solar panels, they got dusty" after observing the data coming from the solar system.

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