Paying School Fees via Mobile Money in Benin 

Researchers: Claire Adida (UC San Diego), Jennifer Burney (UC San Diego), and Ganz Chockalingam (UC San Diego)
Location: Benin

In developing countries, remittances play an important role as an informal insurance scheme for individuals and households. Individuals migrate in search of economic opportunity and send part of their improved earnings home. Among other things, remittances have been shown to improve access to public services, provide insurance against income shocks, and increase agricultural productivity. Addressing and resolving the factors that impede optimal levels and use of remittances carries important implications for poverty alleviation and growth.

Researchers aim to address the current obstacles of remittance receipt and distribution by providing a system of direct remittance for secondary school fees. The project trials the use of mobile technology to allow users to send remittances to secondary schools rather than individuals, at low cost as well as remotely, privately, and directly to address well-documented obstacles that impede remittance flow.

Results

This project is in the scale-up phase. From 2015–2016, researchers piloted a mobile-money school fee payment system in one secondary public school, Kalalé, Benin, a district with high poverty rates and an active network of hometown associations across the county whose members are motivated to invest at home. 

Researchers are now in conversation with MFS Africa, a mobile money payment hub, to develop a school-fee mobile money payment system for nation-wide use. They will then work with the Ministry of Secondary Education in Benin and with local school administrators to assist secondary school institutions nation-wide in the on-boarding process. Researchers will implement this process via a randomized control trial to evaluate the factors that determine uptake. Addressing and resolving the factors that impede optimal levels and use of remittances carries important implications for poverty alleviation and growth.

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