"Bridges to Cash": Channeling Agency in Mobile Money

PDF Document

It appears your Web browser is not configured to display PDF files. Download adobe Acrobat or click here to download the PDF file.

License

Creative Commons Licence

Contributors

Created date

July 17, 2018

Critical Commentary

Abstract:

Encountered by mobile money professionals – industry and philanthropic actors seeking to bring
mobile phone-enabled financial products to poor people in the ‘developing world’ – the authors
move together with new collaborators to inquire into a problem they had been grappling with for
some time. This is the problem of agency; specifically, the agency of ‘mobile money agents’, the
people ‘on the ground’ or ‘in the field’ who form a crucial function in permitting others to put cash
into an electronic money transfer system and pull cash out of it. These ‘human ATMs’ or ‘bridges to
cash’ become the object of analytical scrutiny for mobile money experts and anthropologists. This
article takes that analytical scrutiny – and not mobile money agents themselves – as its object. It
seeks to understand how ‘agency’ inflects debates over money, its meaning and its pragmatics, and
its transformation in new communicative infrastructures, and how it might inform anthropology and
political struggles over money and payment.

Source

Maurer, Bill, Taylor C. Nelms, and Stephen C. Rea. (2013). “‘Bridges to cash': channeling agency in mobile money.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 19 (1): 52-74. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9655.12003

Group Audience