Driving usage of mobile money in Pakistan
More than a 100 million Pakistanis don’t have access to formal and regulated financial services (World Bank), accounting for 5 percent of the world's unbanked population, making branchless banking a viable and promising alternative. With more than 20 million customers every month and 75,000 shops in more than 800 cities across Pakistan, Easypaisa is the first and largest branchless banking service in Pakistan. Easypaisa and a team of researchers have formed a partnership to better understand how to encourage subscribers to open Easypaisa Accounts and become active mobile money users.
People are influenced by their friends, family, and social networks in how individuals make decisions. In the context of mobile money and mobile phones, networks play a critical role in determining eventual technology adoption. This project aims to optimize incentive and referral programs to create active and sustained Easypaisa subscribers. The goal of the current study is to understand how and why social networks affect the spread of mobile money. Better understanding of how to design and target incentive and referral programs will directly drive adoption and, more importantly, usage of mobile money in Pakistan through our partner, Telenor's mobile money service-Easypaisa.
This project will strengthen Easypaisa's marketing techniques, giving their product and services an opportunity to grow with securing more active mobile money subscribers in turn expanding economic activity. In particular, we are interested in finding answers to three important questions:
(1) How do people select the friends and family that they refer?
(2) How does a person convince the friend or family member to adopt and use Easypaisa?
(3) What determines whether a new client will continue to use Easypaisa in the long run?
These questions will be investigated using a rigorous randomised control trial, where existing users of Easypaisa Account will be incentivised to refer their friends or family to also open a mobile account. Both the referrer and referee will be eligible to earn a reward in the form of free Easypaisa balance. Incentives will encourage not only opening of a new account but also active use of the account.
Answering these questions will generate generalisable insights about the determinants of mobile money usage and, through this, deepen our understanding of mobile money's potential to expand financial access and encourage sustainable economic growth. More generally, this research will also answer questions about technology adoption and diffusion, which can be applicable outside the immediate context, in different settings.