Mobile money and the impact of mobile phone regulatory enforcement among the urban poor in Tanzania
Stark, L. (2021). Mobile money and the impact of mobile phone regulatory enforcement among the urban poor in Tanzania. Human Technology, 17(1), 22-44. https://doi.org/10.17011/ht/urn.202106223977
Published inHuman Technology
© 2021 Laura Stark and the Open Science Centre, University of Jyväskylä
Mobile money provides a tool for survival, particularly in urban conditions shaped by city regulations that make microvending difficult for the poor. An analysis of 165 interviews conducted in two low-income neighborhoods in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania over 8 years demonstrates how interlocked layers of technology and interaction make mobile money services semiformal. I introduce two mobile money-enabled survival strategies: intrahousehold transfers for day-to-day survival (transfers within the same city) and resource safeguarding through kin remittances of start-up capital (home-based subsistence business capital stored for kin access in emergencies). The recent tightening of mobile phone regulations in the global South has disrupted users’ multilevel and formal/informal-hybrid infrastructures of money movement in these communities. Such tougher regulations could result in a new digital divide that hinders rather than facilitates the financial inclusion of the poor.