Thank You to Bill Maurer and Stephen Rea


Last week, Credit Slips was fortunate to have the thoughtful insights of Bill Maurer and Stevie Rea on payments systems. Their posts reflect years of research in the United States and overseas on the social meaning of money, the potential and perils of mobile money, and the future of cash. We thank them for sharing their ideas with us.

As anthropologists working in a field shaped by legal rules--and lack thereof, Bill and Stevie offered insights on the ways in which cultural beliefs, social networks, and other non-legal forces are likely to shape the regulation of payments system in the future. If you missed their posts, I highly recommend you treat yourself to them. In their final post, they offer a challenge to Credit Slips readers that I hope we'll take up:

Bill and Stevie write in their post, Platform, Infrastructure, Utility?

Our take-home message is threefold: (1) The genie is already out of the bottle, and it’s not going back. We’ve got a telecommunications network that is already—with prepaid airtime—functioning as a payments network. (2) The potential here is for mobile money to be “more” than a card on the phone. The potential is for mobile money to be a financial service suite on the phone. And to serve financial inclusion goals. (3) But let’s remember Mas and Porteous’s point: the payments grid has to function—and be regulated—more like a utility. So that’s the challenge for the Credit Slips community: regulators, policy makers, academics and lawyers with decades’ expertise dealing with other payment networks: how do we do this? What are the lessons learned from other payment networks, other infrastructures: social, technological, legal and everything in-between? That's an open question and we look forward to continuing this conversation!