Articles by Phil Mader
Mobile money is widely seen as a promising engine for global development. But governments in Africa are also increasingly viewing it as a lucrative source of tax revenue. With critics raising concerns about the impact of taxing mobile money and other digital financial services, Adrienne Lees and Phil Mader at the Institute of Development Studies explore whether existing research can inform any confident predictions about the effects of these taxes on providers, customers and the broader financial inclusion sector.
"It sounds so simple: Everyone gets access to financial services and – presto – the foundations for the SGDs will be laid." That's the key message Phil Mader and Maren Duvendack took away from World Bank economist Leora Klapper's recent NextBillion post. But that rosy scenario, they say, bears no resemblance to reality. In fact, according to their exhaustive new review of existing research, the inconvenient truth is that financial inclusion is not accelerating progress toward the SDGs – and isn't even fundamental for attaining them.
Many assume that getting rid of cash in the name of financial inclusion would unequivocally be a good thing for the poor. Phil Mader says it's too early to say – and that cash might have insufficiently recognized advantages, including being free to use, anonymous and under public stewardship. And besides, he argues, if the mission is poverty alleviation, it’s not money’s physical form, but how it's distributed, that matters.