Poverty and privacy
How digital financial services can prey upon the poor
Their data can be used to exploit as well as help them
For those seeking to help the worst-off in poor countries, the mobile phone has been a magic wand. Mobile-money accounts have helped deliver “financial inclusion”—making financial services accessible to the tens of millions with a phone but no bank account. But they have downsides too.
The most obvious way digital financial services harm poor people is by laying them more open to fraud. Research from 2016 cited in a new report by the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), a consortium of donors affiliated to the World Bank, found that in the Philippines 83% of people surveyed had been targets of mobile-phone scams, with 17% losing money. In Tanzania, 27% had been targeted and 17% fleeced; in Ghana, 56% and 12%.
For the most basic deceptions, a thief needs only a phone number. A text message might offer congratulations on winning a prize, requiring only a small
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