The Macroeconomics of Mobile Money

Friday, April 2, 2010
Columbia University
W & J Warren Hall, Room 208
On the corner of 115th Street and Amsterdam Avenue


Around the world, the rapid spread of mobile phones is being followed by their use as a tool for financial transactions and the creation of mobile money in electronic wallets. The cell phone serves as a bank account, d\ card, and money. This has many implications.

M-finance has been discussed before as a technical and operational issue. What it also needs is a discussion of the macro-economic dimensions monetary policy, development economics, banking regulation, and the security of money creation and transaction.

What are the economics of mobile money? What are the macroeconomic impacts? How will it affect the supply of credit? What policy issues does it raise: such as liability of the providers, anti money-laundry controls, etc.? Is it a threat to the traditional banking system? Has it demonstrated any economic impact yet? What are the security threats? Will mobile-money speed up growth in developing countries, and by how much?

How are developing countries, in particular, affected? The number of mobile subscriptions far exceeds the number of bank accounts. Kenya already has nearly seven million or 38 percent of its cellular customers using a mobile-money system. M-money combines the positive economic impact of improved communications infrastructure with that of micro finance. Both have demonstrated they enhance growth and development; will their combined effect be greater than the sum of their parts? The ubiquity of cell phone service, coupled with the notion of micro-finance offers the possibility of financial service in otherwise underserved remote areas.

The event will have four panels. First, what are the macroeconomic impacts? the implications for the money supply, the supply of credit, etc.? Second, what are the legal and regulatory implications? What are the opportunities and dangers of mobile-money, what are the impacts on anti-laundering laws, loss of control of the money supply, liabilities of the provider, etc.? The third panel deals with a key issue: security. Can accounts be protected over wireless services, identity theft be controlled, etc.? The final panel examines the implications for developing countries. How much, if at all, will mobile-money improve the financial infrastructure, how much will this contribute to growth and development?

The conference is organized by James Alleman, Mohammed Alotaibi, Eli Noam, Leon Perlman, and the Columbia Institute for Tele-Information.


Agenda

9:30 a.m. - 9:45 a.m.
Welcome & Overview

  • Eli Noam, Director, CITI, Professor of Finance and Economics, Columbia Business School

9:45 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.
Macroeconomic Impacts

  • The Consumers Perspective: Evidence from the United States, Aniruddha Banerjee & Paul Rappoport, Centris & Temple University
  • The impact mobile money initiatives will have on the economies of emerging markets, Menekse Gencer, Director/Founder of mPay Connect

Moderator:

  • Bill Hoffman, World Economic Forum

11:15 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Coffee break

11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Legal & Regulatory Implications

  • Overview of Regulatory Issue of M-payments, Benjamin Geva, Osgoode Hall Law School of York University*
  • Opportunities and Dangers with E-payments, Carol Van Cleef, Patton Boggs LLP
  • Mobile Money & Payments: regulatory challenges in the developing and developed world, Leon Perlman, Wireless Application Service Providers` Association (South Africa) & Cellular Online

Moderator:

  • Richard Field, Delegate to the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, Working Group on Electronic Commerce


12:30 p.m. - 2 p.m.
Lunch

Lunch Speaker:

  • Greg Harper, President, Harpervision Associates, "Overview of the Technical State of the Mobile Payment System"

2 p.m. - 3 p.m.
Is the mobile secure?

  • Overview of Mobile Banking Threats, Kevin Streff, Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Information Assurance in Banking and Finance, Dakota State University
  • "Securing Mobile-money: The Ugandan Experience", Michael Landau, MAP International
  • "Mobile Payment Security: What it means and how to implement it?", Hadi Nahari, Principal Security Architect, PayPal

Moderator:

  • Steven Bellovin, Professor, Columbia University

3 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.
Coffee Break

3:15 p.m. - 4 p.m.
M-money for Developing Countries

  • The Use of Mobile Phones for the Unbanked in Saharan Africa, Judith O'Neill, Greenberg Traurig
  • VoIP & Money Applications in Developing Countries: New Developments, Dan Jensen, Executive VP, iWorldServices
  • Development Implications of Mobile Money, World Bank Representative, World Bank

Moderator:

  • Raul Katz, Senior Fellow, Columbia University

4 p.m. - 4:15 p.m.
Summary Comments

  • James Alleman, Professor Emeritus, University of Colorado, Boulder

4:15pm -
Reception

*To be confirmed
Registration: Click here to register for the event.
For more information, please email Arian R. Rivera, at arr2137@columbia.edu.
Cost: $100 corporations; $50 Sart-ups and Independents; Academic/non-profits/government/students $10 without lunch (lunch, $20)

Conference Organized by James Alleman, Mohammed Alotaibi, Eli Noam, Leon Perlman, and the Columbia Institute for Tele-Information