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Blockchain for Financial Inclusion and Mobile Financial Services: A study in sub-Saharan Africa
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM).
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM).
2019 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Financial services have historically been offered by central entities which has put financial systems in the control of a number of central parties. Some argue that this centralization has contributed to a more unequal distribution of wealth. However, during more recent time with the emergence of blockchain, traditional perspectives on transparency and democratization have shifted. Increasing financial inclusion has been highlighted as a crucial step in decreasing poverty levels and blockchain has been discussed as a technology with a potential to make a difference in this ambition.

This study will focus on sub-Saharan Africa where 550 million individuals lack access to financial services despite having access to mobile phones. As a consequence of this, mobile financial services boomed in sub-Saharan Africa, starting in Kenya. This study will therefore focus on mobile financial services and more precisely on the perceived usefulness of blockchain technology for the mobile financial services. Furthermore, the study aims to explore what role blockchain can play in further increasing financial inclusion in the region. This was done by conducting several interviews with people representing start-ups, government agencies, telco companies during a research trip to South Africa and by participation in the Blockchain Africa Conference 2019 in Cape town. 

The findings from the research show that blockchain is perceived as useful for mobile financial services, mainly because of its ability to reduce costs by removing intermediaries, to automate processes and to create decentralized trust. However, it was also found that the usefulness is negatively affected today due to the lack of common protocols and definitions, which makes it difficult for blockchain to yet make a real difference in increasing financial inclusion.

Abstract [sv]

Finansiella tjänster har historiskt sätt tillhandahållits med hjälp av centraliserad datalagring genom pålitliga intermediärer såsom banker och försäkringsbolag. Detta har satt det finansiella systemet i kontroll av några få centrala aktörer vilket somliga menar har ökat den ekonomisk ojämlikheten. På senare tid, i samband med blockkedjeteknologins framväxt, har synen på demokrati och transparens skiftat. Ökad finansiell inkludering har lyfts fram som avgörande för att minska fattigdomen. Blockkedjeteknologin har framhävts att ha potential att göra skillnad i detta arbete.

Denna studie fokuserar på Subsahariska Afrika där 550 miljoner individer saknar tillgång till finansiella tjänster trots att de har tillgång till mobiltelefoner. Att erbjuda mobila finansiella tjänster är viktigt för att möjliggöra finansiell inkludering. Studien ämnar därför att undersöka upplevd användbarhet av blockkedjeteknologi för mobila finansiella tjänster och hur tekniken kan utöka finansiell inkludering i kontinenten. Detta har delvis gjorts genom en forskningsresa till Sydafrika där flertalet intervjuer utfördes med personer som representerar startupbolag, regeringen, telekombranschen och den akademiska världen.

Resultaten från studien visar att blockkedjeteknologin upplevs vara användbar för mobila finansiella tjänster, främst på grund av dess förmåga att sänka kostnaderna genom att ta bort mellanhänder, automatisera processer samt skapa säkra decentraliserade system. Däremot måste standardiserade protokoll och definitioner måste utvecklas innan detta kan realiseras. Fram till dess kommer det att vara svårt för blockkedjeteknolgi att göra en verklig skillnad i ökad finansiell inkludering.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 93
Series
TRITA-ITM-EX ; 2019:207
Keywords [en]
Blockchain, Financial inclusion, Mobile financial services, Technology acceptance model, Perceived usefulness, Diffusion of innovations, Sub-Saharan Africa
Keywords [sv]
Blockkedjeteknologi, Finansiell inkludering, Mobila finansiella tjänster, Teknologiska acceptansmodellen, Upplevd användbarhet, Innovationsspridning, Subsahariska Afrika
National Category
Engineering and Technology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-264126OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-264126DiVA, id: diva2:1372187
External cooperation
Ericsson M-Commerce
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2019-11-22 Created: 2019-11-22 Last updated: 2019-11-29Bibliographically approved

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