Mobile money plays its part in charity

By Mohammed Waseem

Mobile money is the new trend in money transfer. Traditionally, people carried coins for making payments, then came the bills and then the plastic money which we call credit/debit cards. All of this may now be replaced with mobile money.

Though the usage of mobile money is quite low, but it is growing and being adopted all over the World. In this article, I will talk about charity done with mobile money.

Mobile Charity

Funds are usually raised for supporting poverty stricken fragments of the underdeveloped nations, disaster stricken lands, or for some other social causes. This happens through wire transfers, check or DD payments, cash payments through representatives, etc. With the introduction of Mobile Money, another medium was added to this list and this is quite convenient. This medium is useful because it saves costs and gives more money per dollar. Additionally, mobile money can reach extremely remote areas where there are no distribution channels.

Thomson Reuters Foundation reports the charity fund raising initiative of mobile phone operator Tigo and charity organization, Oxfam International in Guatemala to transfer money quickly and safely to provide for families affected by drought and malnutrition. The families were given a sim card and money was sent to their phones. It is reported that Oxfam has so far given $282,000 to 1700 families using mobile phones.

The recent typhoon of Philippines is another disaster which attracted fund raisers’ attention, where over 3000 died and thousands were left homeless. P2P (Person to Person) service provider Remitly, which specializes in transferring money to Philippines using mobile phones, did its best to raise funds to help. They raised money from all over the world and transferred the money to Philippines Red Cross for helping the homeless families.

The world pioneer of mobile money – Kenya – is also in the list. NGO named GiveDirectly launched a campaign to help raise funds to help poverty stricken families in Kenya and help in reaching remote areas with mobile transfers. Of course, they used the leading mobile transfer service M-Pesa. So, the recipient has to either visit a local M-Pesa agent to receive cash or use money from the mobile for making purchases. reports that residents in Rarieda area in Kenya generally live on $1 a day and most of them do not have food in their homes for the next day.

Similarly, funds amounting to $190,000 were also raised in the US by the American Red Cross, in collaboration with Wireless Foundation after the hurricanes, where nearly 38000 people had contributed.

This is good use of the technology and it has certainly made a difference, as I have discussed in the above examples.

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