Mobile money and mHealth are both growing fields, and their links between one another have warranted some recent attention. USAID recently held a webinar on New Trends in USAID Procurement: e-Payments and Mobile Money, which explored the use of e-payments with perspective given by involved partners. To consider the particular opportunities and lessons for health programs, another webinar on Demystifying Mobile Payments featured presentations by GBi, USAID and Pathfinder to discuss the general advantages of mobile money, including costs savings, transparency, reduced waste, reduced security risks, financial access for the unbanked, and creation of new financial products for the unbanked. GBI highlighted its development of tools that assist organizations in the transition from cash to e-payments, and Pathfinder illustrated how health programs can use mobile money through its project to pay trainers in the field.
The intersection of mobile money and mHealth was again highlighted May 28 in a meeting of the mHealth Working Group, hosted by Abt Associates.The meeting featured presentations by Abt, mPay Connect, USAID Mobile Solutions Team, D-Tree, Marie Stopes International and NetHope . One speaker referred to mobile money and mHealth as “parallel universes” that can be integrated. To illustrate this integration, D-Tree explained its use of mobile money to pay for transport of pregnant women to health facilities—increasing in the facility delivery rates. As innovation continues to progress in both fields, there is renewed interest in bridging the “parallel universes” of mobile money and mHealth.
More links between mobile money and mHealth will be the topic of an upcoming blog. We invite you to nominate an example project or resource for the blog.