DP18124 Mobile Money, Interoperability and Financial Inclusion
This paper explores the tradeoff between competition and financial inclusion given by the vertical integration between mobile network and money operators. Joining novel data on mobile money fees built through the WayBack machine, with sources on network coverage and financials, we examine the staggering across African operators and countries of platform interoperability – a policy that promotes transactions and competition across mobile money operators. Our findings show that interoperability lowers mobile money fees and reduces network coverage and mobile towers, especially in rural and poor districts. Interoperability also results in a decline in various survey metrics of financial inclusion.