Beyond the Buzz: The Allure and Challenge of Using Mobile Phones to Increase Youth Financial Inclusion

Jamie M. Zimmerman, Lex Nowak, Elizabeth Carls, Julia Arnold, and Vinay Rao
New America Foundation
Publication Date: 
Sep, 2013

By reviewing the current, yet limited, research on and experience with mobile solutions for youth financial inclusion, this paper illustrates the opportunities and challenges of using mobile technology to reach low-income youth in developing countries with financial products, services, or interventions that enable their financial access or capability. It first surveys trends in financial inclusion and mobile access and usage among youth in the developing world, and outlines how mobile phones can help achieve youth financial inclusion goals. It then explores a range of perspectives and experiences from the financial inclusion field on the subject. Reflecting on the dearth of evidence and practice—particularly relative to industry enthusiasm for such solutions—it highlights challenges to expanding youth financial access and capability through mobile phones. Finally, it offers initial recommendations on how to create the enabling environment necessary to leverage mobile technology to reach low-income youth with financial products and services in the developing world.

Financial Inclusion