The Emirates Economist describes the burgeoning Third World Industry of transfering money by telephone and asks: if it telephone money real money can it be stolen? Can it be used to hedge against inflation?
The lives of many Kenyans are being transformed by an innovative mobile phone money transfer service. The free account - M-Pesa - is offered by Safaricom Kenya, a leading mobile phone service operator and is a technological breakthrough say the operators. It enables subscribers to send large volumes of money in an instant transaction. The service, which is in the process of rolling out to most major towns in Kenya, is also cheap - costing on average about $1 to send or receive money. Just a month after launch, M-Pesa is already providing cut throat competition to existing money transfer agencies, notably the government-owned Postal Corporation, a market leader with a massive network of branches.
Some cops I talked to have expressed concerns about this service -- and others like it -- being used to move terrorist money around. In some places there's a dollar cap on the amount that can be transacted, but there's no reason in principle that it can't be used to dribble money to and from terrorist cells.