December 31, 2010

The Economist on Cell Phones in Emerging Markets

The Economist has added to the chorus praising cell phone technology's potential for Emerging Market growth. In an article found here, the Economist notes the ability of cell phone technology to "connect the excluded," or give the power of information to individuals who previously were not able to access it. Cell phones allow farmers to check prices on their crops, connect medical personnel with sick patients, and make it possible to share news with the press of a button.

One service provided by the BBC even allows users to dial in for English lessons. Launched in November 2009, the service has already been used by over 3MN people.

Mobile banking is also growing in popularity, with users connecting to their bank accounts to view balances and transfer funds with a simple text message. Such a service is crucial in economies where the population is too widely spread to make access to bank branches or ATMs possible for the majority of the population.

As mentioned previously, cell phone technology is also stepping over traditional landlines to connect people in the developing world. An attempted phone call to a developing country can often be illuminating - many tries to get through and poor connections are often standard in countries where capacity and infrastructure make it impossible to maintain service. Cell phones on the other hand rely on broadcast towers as opposed to telephone wires, and many analysts believe will become more important than land connections in coming years.

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