Financial Capability Building: Mobile Money as an Intervention Going to Scale. Feb. 22, 2018 #MacroSW Chat

by Pat Shelly


street stall with two people sitting at a counter under a white-and-orange-striped umbrella, in a city in Bangladesh.
Photo: Tulsi Ratnam and Nadia van de Walle

Chat transcript here

Numbers for this chat: 2.465 million Impressions / 1.012 Tweets / 86 participants /759 average tweets per hour /

Imagine you are a woman who begins to work in a garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh. You have never received a paycheck or hourly wages for your labor before you were hired for this job. You have never had a banking account.  You have minimal financial literacy, such as the knowledge and skills to manage monetary resources effectively, and to make informed financial decisions. You do not know English, the international language of banking and finance. You lack basic information and communications technology.  Now what?

Enter the introduction of  mobile money: the use of  a basic cell phone-  not a smart phone – as a technology that addresses the need for banking services for the previously unbanked. It is a method to store, withdraw and transfer money. This innovation was adopted and spread very quickly in Bangladesh, with buy-in from the World Bank and major banking institutions.

cell phone shows image of mesasge "Tranfer successful! 100 Euros"
image: Metro Bank PLC

As social workers, we know that even the best-planned policies can have unintended consequences. Join us on February 22nd as we discuss the ways that mobile money is an alternative to traditional banking procedures. We’ll look at a few instances of mobile money technology in the U.S. marketplace too. The readings below are highly recommended, as many of us will not be familiar with circumstances in Bangladesh.

Our guest expert this week is Dr. Nadine Shaanta Murshid @nadineshaanta, who will offer examples of how this tool has been built to scale* in Bangladesh. Your host is Pat Shelly for the #MacroSW partner @UBSSW.

*Going to scale is a process of replicating a successful program’s results.  Scaling up typically focuses on replication, expansion and quantification. See:
“Going to scale”     “The myths of scaling-up”


Questions for discussion

Q1  What are the challenges with low financial literacy levels and financial systems knowledge? Do we have this problem in the US?

Q2 What is mobile money?

Q3 What are the pluses and minuses of having agents, as in Bangladesh?

Q4 What are some unintended consequences of using mobile money systems?

Q5 What are ways that social workers can help increase financial capability both here in the US and in developing countries?

Q6  How does gender affect financial capability? How about class?


Recommended Readings

The Growth of Mobile Financial Services in Bangladesh

Financial inclusion in Bangladesh gets a mobile money boost: Insights from the 2016 FII data

Digital financial inclusion of the rural poor in Bangladesh

More about Mobile Money and Agents in Bangladesh


Building financial capability: A grand challenge for social work.



Sending money? Here are the best apps for that.

Wells Fargo and Zelle TV commercial [30 sec. video]



Shaanta Murshid props her head on on one hand as she relaxes on a couch.
Nadine Shaanta Murshid, Ph.D.

Dr. Murshid is an assistant professor at the University at Buffalo School of Social Work. Her research interests include economic institutions, gender, structural violence, intimate partner violence, and women’s health. She is a regular contributor to the Daily Star, Bangladesh’s leading national English-language daily.




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