Mobilizing Markets: Understanding the Impact of Mobile Financial Services on Individual Freedom and Prosperity in Bangladesh
TWCF Number
Project Duration
December 1 / 2022
- November 30 / 2024
Core Funding Area
Individual Freedom and Free Markets
Amount Awarded

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Philip Edgar Auerswald
Institution George Mason University

Mobile financial services have the potential to make money management more accessible and inclusive in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs). A study led by Phillip Auerswald at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government will constitute the most comprehensive analysis of the impacts of mobile financial services on human flourishing conducted outside of the United States and Western Europe.

The 18-month project will utilize a decade's worth of anonymized consumer-level data on financial service usage in Bangladesh to study the impacts of increased access to financial products and services on individual and community flourishing. Additionally, the project will seek to understand whether and how free competition prevents or alleviates poverty, and generates products and services to meet fundamental human needs.

Conducted in partnership with bKash, the dominant provider of mobile financial services in Bangladesh, and BRAC Bank Limited, the project will seek answers to the following:

  • How have patterns of usage of financial services in Bangladesh evidenced individual learning, growth, and development? How have the rates and direction of learning, growth, and development varied among users according to gender, income, geography, and other characteristics?
  • What have been the impacts of increased financial inclusion on entrepreneurship? How have the rates and direction of entrepreneurship varied among users?
  • How has the growth of mobile financial services contributed to the reduction of rural-urban disparities, in particular through the facilitation of within-country remittances?
  • How did the use of mobile financial services contribute to entrepreneurial adaptation during peak intervals of the Covid-19 pandemic?
  • How do markets complement large-scale infrastructure investments in advancing human flourishing?
  • How can machine-augmented decision making tools both broaden and deepen the positive impact of mobile financial services on human flourishing?

The research aims to yield submissions to peer-reviewed journals, and plans to inform real-world applications through a special issue of Innovations journal dedicated to market-based deployment of machine-augmented decision making tools in ascending markets. The project also aims to form the basis of an envisioned program at George Mason University' Schar School of Policy and Government on Markets, Technology, and Human Flourishing.

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