Mobile money provides unique opportunities in the health sector. Mobile money enables funds to be deposited, transferred, and withdrawn electronically through mobile phone accounts.
It can be integrated into existing activities—replacing cash flows—to improve efficiency, accountability, and transparency in financial transactions. It also opens up potential to improve scalability of subsidy and incentive schemes and to expand access to financial services such as credit and savings.
This paper reviews current use cases and potential applications of mobile money in health, including: (a) bulk payments for salaries and per diems; (b) conditional cash transfer and pay-for-performance schemes; (c) collection of health insurance premiums; and (d) management of voucher schemes, with the overall objective of bringing attention to the benefits and challenges of using mobile money in the health sector.
The paper includes three detailed case studies that represent some of the most documented examples of mobile money and health – MicroEnsure, D-tree International, and Marie Stopes International. Although the mobile money industry is continuing to grow rapidly, use cases in the health sector are limited. This small but promising collection of use cases is expected to expand as evidence that supports the potential benefits of mobile money in the health sector continues to grow.