Tracking how mobile banking and texting are impacting lives in Africa | 10/11/2018 | Staff
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MIT Sloan applied economics professor Tavneet Suri wishes for the day when data sets are as readily available in developing countries as they are in the United States. In an effort to help that disparity, she's been researching the link between mobile banking apps and poverty levels in Kenya.

"I think the sad thing is in emerging markets in developing countries—at least the ones I worked in Africa—data is so sparse. When I started my Ph.D. it was very clear that I wasn't going to be able to take a data set off the shelf. It doesn't exist. Whatever you want to study, it doesn't exist. And I always envy people who work on the U.S. because it's like, 'oh, go find this data set, apply for it.' And I'm like wow, what would the world be like if there were a hundred data sets on different things?

List - Everybody - Data

"I think my wish list would be, everybody who's doing this, put your data out and make it public."

When mobile banking reached Africa, Suri watched what happened to the financial resilience of Kenyan citizens. Thanks to the ease of sending and receiving money by phone, friends and family could more quickly help someone who needed financial help.

Resilience - Piece - Years - Product - Years

"After we did this resilience piece we waited a few years and went back in 2014 to say 'OK, the product's been around for six, seven years. What's the longer term effect it has over those periods?'

"We found that it reduced poverty by...
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