Comparative Human Development Thresholds for Absolute and Relative Pro-Poor Mobile Banking in Developing Countries
Information Technology & People, 31(1), pp. 63-93 (February, 2018)
29 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2017 Last revised: 5 Feb 2018
Date Written: March 19, 2017
We assess the correlations between mobile banking and inclusive development (poverty and inequality) in 93 developing countries for the year 2011. Mobile banking entails: ‘mobile phones used to pay bills’ and ‘mobile phones used to receive/send money’, while the modifying policy indicator is the human development index (HDI). The data is decomposed into seven sub-panels based on two fundamental characteristics, namely: regions (Latin America, Asia and Pacific, Central and Eastern Europe, and Middle East and North Africa) and income levels (upper middle income, lower middle income and low income). Our results show that at certain thresholds of the HDI, mobile banking is positively linked to inclusive development. The following specific findings are established. First, the increased use of mobile phones to pay bills is negatively correlated with: (i) poverty in lower-middle-income countries (LMIC), upper-middle-income countries (UMIC) and Latin American countries (LA), respectively at HDI thresholds of 0.725, 0.727 and 0.778 and; (ii) inequality in UMIC and LA with HDI thresholds of respectively 0.646 and 0.761. Second, the increased use of mobile phones to send/receive money is negatively correlated with: (i) poverty in LMIC, UMIC and Central and Eastern European countries (CEE) with corresponding HDI thresholds of 0.631, 0.750 and 0.750 and (ii) inequality in UMIC, CEE and LA at HDI thresholds of 0.665, 0.736 and 0.726 respectively. The findings are discussed in the light of current policy challenges in the transition from Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals. We have exploited the only macroeconomic data on mobile banking currently available.
Keywords: Mobile banking, quality of growth, poverty, inequality
JEL Classification: G20; O40; I10; I20; I32
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