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ICT for financial access: Mobile money and the financial behavior of rural households in Uganda


Review of Development Economics

Published online on


Mobile money usage has expanded tremendously in Uganda, reaching over 40% of the adult population within 8 years of inception. We use data from 820 rural households to examine the effect of this financial innovation on their financial behavior. We find that using mobile money services increases the likelihood of saving, borrowing, and receiving remittances. The corresponding amounts of each service are also significantly higher among mobile money user households relative to their nonuser counterparts. We demonstrate that the mechanism of this impact is a reduction in transaction costs—a combination of transportation fares and service charges—associated with household proximity to mobile money agents. To illustrate the convenience of service proximity, we demonstrate that the household's likelihood and frequency of using mobile money services reduces with the distance to the nearest mobile money agent. This distance variable is then used to instrument for the potentially endogenous mobile money adoption. We finally perform propensity score matching to reinforce the robustness of our results; our results are consistent across all these specifications. The results imply that developing and enhancing access to and usage of pro‐poor financial products could be a first step to achieving greater financial inclusion.