According to a 2014 survey of Latin American countries, 80 percent of Haitians don’t have a bank account. However, mobile phone ownership in Haiti has increased rapidly in the past decade, culminating in just under 60 percent of its citizens owning cell phones. Thanks to mobile money apps that can be accessed with a phone, many bankless Haitians have become more financially stable. This mobile money movement began in 2011, and is still going strong today.
Digicel Provides Natural Disaster Relief
After the 7.0 magnitude earthquake ravaged Haiti in 2010, the country’s largest mobile phone network, Digicel, launched TchoTcho, a cashapp that facilitated direct monetary transfers to people’s phones. Domestic money transfers, payroll and basic banking were the first services to be accommodated by TchoTcho. No longer did Haitians have to carry cash in dangerous areas or pay ridiculous premiums to send wire transfers to friends and family. TchoTcho allowed transfers of $25 through text for a 15 cent fee, and transfers of $2.50 three times a day for free. In 2012, $960 million had been sent and received on the app.
MonCash Offers Credit
In 2015, Digicel relaunched TchoTcho as MonCash and enriched it with a bevy of new financial services. Peer-to-peer lending, on-call agents, bank partnerships, and customer education were all rolled out with the new app. Thus, MonCash users were granted access to lines of credit, repayment plans, and personalized banking all from their phones. Amidst discussion of which financing methods are best and the choice between credit cards and personal loans, mobile phones have allowed for an all-in-one debit card, credit card and personal loan for people who never had any of these. As a result, mobile money usage skyrocketed. From July 2015 to July 2017, MonCash customers grew from 83,000 to 795,000 – an increase of 860 percent.
Mobile Money Today
Since sophisticated financial transactions can be accommodated by mobile money apps, more and more Haitians are entering the economy in ways that they couldn’t imagine. MonCash can be used by people in the most remote and impoverished areas in the country, removing the need for travel, the dangers of stockpiling cash, and the expenses of traditional money wires. Additionally, many organizations have paired with MonCash so that users can buy items at local stores, exchange MonCash for real cash via financial institutions, and sell their own products through the app.
Mobile money is growing in popularity in Haiti. While it’s still a lap behind traditional financial services, the technology has been embraced by Haitians all across the country. For these people, financial security is made easier with their phones.