The Persistence of Paper: A Case Study in Microfinance from Ghana

Ishita Ghosh, Jay Chen, Joy Ming, Azza Abouzied

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

Paper as a medium persists as the de facto standard for information collection, storage, and transfer in many low-resource developing contexts. Of these contexts, the microfinance industry continues to be fascinating in the ongoing ICTD conversation due, in part, to its elimination of paper by digitizing money transfers using mobile banking. This success invites scholars, designers, and industry practitioners to design technology solutions to eliminate the perceived inefficiencies of paper in microfinance and other industries. In this work, we take a step back to assess the role and value of paper in order to give designers pause when considering a blanket digitization of existing processes, norms, and transactions. Specifically, we study a microfinance ecosystem in the city of Tema in Ghana and find that paper passbooks are able to deliver valuable context-specific information to its owners that derive from the specific affordances of paper itself. Our findings encourage a more nuanced view of paper?s place in microfinance, and consequently, in similar low-resource settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 7th International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development, ICTD 2015
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
ISBN (Electronic)9781450331630
DOIs
StatePublished - May 15 2015
Event7th International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development, ICTD 2015 - Singapore, Singapore
Duration: May 15 2015May 18 2015

Publication series

NameACM International Conference Proceeding Series
Volume15

Other

Other7th International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development, ICTD 2015
CountrySingapore
CitySingapore
Period5/15/155/18/15

Keywords

  • ICTD
  • Microfinance
  • Paper

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Computer Networks and Communications

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