E-cash on the rise in Somalia

January 8th, 2013 by Alun McDonald Posted in Aid, Somalia, Video

Oxfam partner Hijra recently began an innovative new “e-cash” project to deliver aid to people in Mogadishu via mobile phones. Women like Kadija Mohammed, who uses the $150 she receives to invest in her small shop, say receiving mobile cash gives her far more options than traditional food aid: “The money gives me choices, it gives me the power to buy and sell things… all you can do with the food is eat.” Although in its early stages, many people find the mobile money transfers to be safer and quicker than other methods. Al Jazeera reports:

  1. 6 Responses to “E-cash on the rise in Somalia”

  2. By Ian Firth on Feb 26, 2013

    i have just watch the video clip regarding the E-cash scheme. I feel that it is a good idea, however i do have my concerns about it. I would like to know how they can spend the credit that they get on the phone. and also what if they phone gets stolen from them. What happens then?

  3. By John Taylor on Feb 26, 2013

    A really good idea- although the report refers to high start-up costs, the scheme should have very low overheads, once up and running, and has the great benefit of eliminating the middleman chain. Participants in the scheme would need identity protection, and protection against loss if the phone is lost or stolen. But I’m sure this scheme has a great future

  4. By Louise Easlea on Feb 26, 2013

    I’ve just watched a clip on e-cash and how it works. I’m totally amazed at how this system enables people to enhance their lives using such a safe method. Love and light to all concerned xxx

  5. By Geno Teofilo - Oxfam on Mar 19, 2013

    Dear Ian,
    Thanks for your comment and questions. What is being transferred to the phones is not credit, but funds. It’s held in a separate platform called emaal, and is a sim card application. The funds can either be cashed out through registered company outlets, or the funds can be used to buy merchandise, through transfers made to the merchants phone.
    If phones are stolen, all they need to do is collect a replacement sim from the telecom campany, and the balance of their cash will be reflected in the sim application (emaal). This is a standard process in mobile money, which is also done in Kenya (Mpesa). However, if stolen, the funds are protected by password and therefore the accounts will not accessible to anyone but the owner.

  6. By Geno Teofilo - Oxfam on Mar 19, 2013

    Dear Louise,
    Thank you for your comment, we are pleased that you like our programme.

  7. By Geno Teofilo - Oxfam on Mar 19, 2013

    Dear John,
    I thought you would like to know that the e-cash system is a private business that has existed in the market for a while, before we decided to utilize it. All the start up costs were met by the private sector (telecom company). Currently in Somalia the transfer of funds through phones is free, but this is expected to change as the service gains acceptance from wider audience.

    The main cost currently associated with this model is the cost of the hand sets, which is a discounted rate, at $17.50 each. If a phone is stolen, all they need to do is collect a replacement sim from the telecom company, and the balance of their cash will be reflected in the sim application (emaal). This is a standard process in mobile money. However, if stolen the funds are protected by password and therefore the accounts will not accessible to anyone but the owner.

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