The Professor will present the paper: Mobile Money, Interoperability, and Financial Inclusion
This paper investigates the tradeoff between competition and financial inclusion resulting from the vertical integration between mobile network and money operators. Joining newly assembled data on mobile money fees through the WayBack machine, with sources on network coverage and financials, we examine the staggering across African operators and countries of platform interoperability - a policy that promotes transactions and competition across mobile money operators. Our results show that interoperability benefits users by lowering mobile money fees and their dispersion across operators. However, these positive effects are offset by a decrease in mobile towers and network coverage, especially in rural and poor districts, which, in turn, leads to a lower financial inclusion. We note that combining interoperability with subsidies for rural telecommunications delivers lower fees without hurting coverage.