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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

A Sustainability Analysis of Mobile Banking in Low and Middle Income Countries: Enabling Identification of Potential Markets

Paul Cassell

A Sustainability Analysis of Mobile Banking in Low and Middle Income Countries: Enabling Identification of Potential Markets


As access to mobile phones outstrips access to financial services in low and middle income countries, the ability to use a mobile phone for banking services gives the opportunity to provide financial services to the "unbanked" (GSMA, 2011) using inherently sustainable technology that builds on existing infrastructure.

Through a survey of around 500 network operators in 144 countries, this research identifies the types of mobile banking available from simple systems that allow the transfer of airtime credit between mobile phones to fully functioning mobile banking systems.  These systems have experienced rapid growth since 2008 and are now most common in Africa and Asia.

The number of available mobile banking systems was then compared to a range of development indicators reflecting factors that might be influential in the implementation of a successful system.  Indicators in areas such as human development, gender equality, corruption, wealth, rural bias and country size showed correlation and have been used to select potential markets for this system.

Finally, ten individual mobile banking systems were analysed in detail to identify common characteristics in their implementations.  These characteristics were used to identify mobile network operators best suited to launch mobile banking systems in the identified countries, and a guide to the pricing structure that they should use for implementation is outlined.

Kosovo, Lesotho and Mauritania were identified as potential markets.

The dissertation shows that correlations can be found between mobile banking implementations and country characteristics that can then be used to identify potential markets.  However, it also cautions the reader that these are only some of the factors to consider before choosing a market for implementation.


Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.