Newswise — BACKGROUND: The 7th annual Insight & Impact Conference of the Institute for Money, Technology & Financial Inclusion, University of California-Irvine, brings together the institute's grant-funded researchers who will present preliminary research findings.

Four researchers below are available as expert sources to discuss their research and findings, and the broader issues and trends of mobile money, financial inclusion, and the sharing economy as it relates to the world’s poor. Please reach out to the media contact listed below if you’d like to speak with an expert.

As more and more philanthropic, industry, and development actors ask whether mobile technology can help provide access to needed financial services like savings and money transfer, the researchers’ projects look to the experience on the ground of existing, traditional money systems and financial practices, as well as the potential and real impact of new technology in providing access to finance for the world's poor.

Experts Available:

Sibel Kusimba, Anthropologist-in-Residence, American University, has more than 20 years’ experience conducting anthropological research in Kenya. Her 2003 book, African Foragers, was named an outstanding academic book by the American Library Association. Her research conducted with funding from IMTFI is being published in the peer-reviewed journals Information Technology in International Development and Economic Anthropology. Kusimba, the recent recipient of a grant award to work on mobile money startup M-Changa, can discuss the creation of informal groups to access digital money services, pool resources and share funds; the implications mobile money behavior and preference will have on traditional banking; and the rapid rise of mobile money in Kenya, widely regarded as the world’s test case for mobile money and financial inclusion because of the vast numbers of citizens who embrace mobile money.

Bill Maurer is Dean of Social Sciences and professor of Anthropology and Law, University of California, Irvine. He is the author of How Would You Like to Pay? How Technology is Changing the Future of Money, among many other publications. The director of the Institute for Money, Technology & Financial Inclusion, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Maurer coordinates research in over 40 countries on how new payment technologies impact poor people’s well-being. His work explores the technological infrastructures and social relations of exchange and payment, from cowries to credit cards, and has had an impact on U.S. and global policies for mobile payment and financial access. Deepti KC is a consultant with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, looking at different policies and programs relating to the Digital Financial Services landscape. She can discuss DFS and other financial inclusion policies and programs in South Asia.

Ndunge Kiiti is professor of International Development at Houghton College, New York, and a visiting professor at the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development. With a key focus on Africa and Latin America, Kiiti’s work involves research, teaching, and publishing in the areas of communication, education, health and development.

Andrew Crawford is an Adjunct Research Associate in the Department of Banking and Finance at Monash University, Australia. He began research in microfinance at Monash and moved to Cambodia in 2010 as an AusAid Youth Ambassador based at the Cambodia Microfinance Association. Over two years he assisted CMA in developing their technology capacity, including a website and microfinance data exchange. He has conducted research into the profitability and outreach of Cambodian microfinance.

Conference Livestream: Media members are welcome to tune into a livestream of the conference, which takes place April 20-22, 2016. The livestream and conference program are available here.

Media Contact: Rebecca Basu, American University Communications, 202-885-5978, [email protected]

About American UniversityAmerican University is a leader in global education, enrolling a diverse student body from throughout the United States and nearly 140 countries. Located in Washington, D.C., the university provides opportunities for academic excellence, public service, and internships in the nation’s capital and around the world.

About the Institute for Money, Technology & Financial InclusionEstablished in 2008, the Institute for Money, Technology & Financial Inclusion is housed in the School of Social Sciences at the University of California, Irvine. Its mission is to support research on money and technology among the world's poorest people.