June 10, 2014
Competition Yields 7 Pilot Mobile Money ProjectsBy Jean Lee
In early April we blogged about BRAC’s new Innovation Fund for Mobile Money, which solicited ideas from the public for pilot projects using mobile money technologies to deliver services. The seven winners have now been announced, and project descriptions are on the BRAC blog as well as the Innovation Fund website.
The winners span a variety of sectors, but all seek new ways to use mobile money to serve the needs of the poor. Here are the descriptions of the winning projects from BRAC. We’ll report on the progress of these projects from Bangladesh, where we’re carrying out an experiment on the impact of mobile banking, this summer.
(Nearly) cashless branch: This pilot undertaken by the Integrated Development Programme is a move towards creating cashless BRAC branches in the remote char areas (riverine islands created and destroyed by floods and erosion). Given the transportation challenges and limited access to financial services in these areas, mobile money will make it easier for both BRAC clients and staff.
Mobile micro-insurance: Most of BRAC’s clients lack access to traditional forms of insurance. Through a joint collaboration, the Microfinance Programme and outsider partners will offer micro-insurance with low, flexible premiums using mobile technology to poor households. It will offer protection for incidents like accidents and illnesses.
Flexible school fee payments for secondary schools: Paying school fees can be a challenge for low-income parents. To address this, the BRAC University Institute of Educational Development will introduce a flexible payment scheme using bKash at the SSCOPE low-cost secondary schools. Parents can pay without needing to come to the school premises each time.
Adolescent savings: To encourage savings behaviour among adolescent girls and provide easy access to safe savings, the Education Programme will work with their adolescent clubs to encourage the habit of mobile savings among its youth club members. Adoption of technology is higher among youth, so this can drive adoption and create a lifetime savings habit.
Mobile payments for community health workers: This initiative by BRAC’s Health, Nutrition and Population Programme will look to improve operational efficiency, transparency and security by integrating mobile money instead of cash to disburse honorariums and incentives to thousands of workers.
Relief vouchers for disaster victims: When a disaster strikes, the most important thing is ensuring that the most vulnerable can access relief as soon as possible. To respond to this need, the Disaster Environment and Climate Change Programme will develop a mobile voucher system that enables clients to directly access goods from local businesses, who will be reimbursed via mobile money by BRAC.
Mobile disaster relief funds: For disasters like evictions, garment factory fires, and floods it is difficult to mobilize funds quickly, even though many would like to donate. The Disaster Environment and Climate Change Programme will set up a simple donation platform that enables them to send money via their mobile phones. This idea originated from a university student in Chittagong.