The defining characteristic of mobile money is that it works in real time. With real time, customers can get immediate confirmation that transactions related to their account are complete, make immediate use of funds they receive, and check that their balance matches their expectation. Real-time transaction processing ensures that all transactions are properly funded; it also removes counterparty or credit risk, which enables the safe use of a large number of third-party retail stores as cash in/out outlets.
Mobile phones have carried real-time practically everywhere. How can bringing together immediacy, control, and trust not revolutionize money—especially in cases where people have not experienced that combination before?
But the fact that real time is mobile money’s basic ingredient doesn’t mean that all services running on mobile should be evanescent, limited to the here and now. I’ve argued elsewhere that the transition that mobile money needs to make—if it wants to get into everyday use—is from making payments to managing payments. Managing payments essentially means following the lifecycle of different payment types—in other words, adding a time dimension to the present real-time mobile payment service.
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