Abstract: Examining Mobile-Money in Bangladesh (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

207P Examining Mobile-Money in Bangladesh

Friday, January 18, 2019
Continental Parlors 1-3, Ballroom Level (Hilton San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Nadine Murshid, Assitant Professor, State University of New York at Buffalo, NY

Financial inclusion, a concept created by CGAP, a consortium of international donor agencies housed within the World Bank, is explicitly tied to eight of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that countries in the developing world signed on to after the Millennium Development Goals came to an end in 2015. The goals include SDG1: to end poverty;  SDG 2: to end hunger; SDG 3: to ensure healthy lives; SDG 5: to achieve gender equality; SDG 8: to ensure decent work; SDG 9: to develop infrastructural development and innovations; SDG 10: to reduce inequality between countries; SDG 17: focus on global partnerships. 

One such tool of financial inclusion is mobile-money, which has proliferated in the global South.

The objective of the current case study is to examine this tool by analyzing the experiences of low-income men and women using this mobile phone enabled banking service in Bangladesh. More generally, this study examines what incorporation into the capitalist world looks like for low-income individuals previously left out of the financial market.


This study uses a case-study approach given that the academic literature is scarce on mobile-money in Bangladesh. The current study is part of a larger study in which we interviewed management personnel of one mobile-money operator in Bangladesh, users of mobile-money, and agents who facilitate the use of mobile-money. The current study focuses on the interviews with users who identified as garment workers, migrant workers, rickshaw pullers, domestic help, and microfinance participants.


Several themes emerged from the interviews with the low-income workers who partook in the current study. The key theme pertaining to each group are as follows. One, most of the women who worked at garment factories reported that they had greater control over their income and money as they could keep it safely in electronic form in their phones. Two, the majority of the men who indicated that they were migrant workers working in Dhaka reported that they do not or are unable to visit their families as much as they used to or as much as they would like to, especially since now as they are able to send them money home using mobile money services. Three, a majority of the rickshaw pullers indicated that they were able to send money to their families during the day which would allow their families to have meals during the day instead of waiting till evening when they would go home with their day’s earnings. Four, most of the women who worked as domestic help indicated that their employers are less likely to allow them to visit their families in the village as they can send money using mobile money services.


Urbanization has created greater demand for mobile-money services. Such services, while enhancing financial inclusion, a World Bank- driven mantra, reinforces some of the perils of urbanization for the working classes, while providing other groups with benefits such as being able to feed their families during the day and store their money safely.