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The Impact of Violence on Mobile Money Use in Afghanistan
Last registered on October 03, 2016

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
The Impact of Violence on Mobile Money Use in Afghanistan
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0001578
Initial registration date
October 03, 2016
Last updated
October 03, 2016 5:08 PM EDT
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
UC San Diego
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Washington University, St. Louis
PI Affiliation
University of Washington, School of Information
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2012-07-01
End date
2013-03-01
Secondary IDs
Abstract
We examine the relationship between violence and financial decisions in Afghanistan. Using three separate data sources, we find that individuals experiencing violence retain more cash and are less likely to adopt and use mobile money, a new financial technology. We first combine detailed information on the entire universe of mobile money transactions in Afghanistan with administrative records for all violent incidents recorded by international forces, and find a negative relationship between violence and mobile money use. Second, in the context of a randomized control trial, violence is associated with decreased mobile money use and greater cash balances. Third, in financial survey data from nineteen of Afghanistan's 34 provinces, we find that individuals experiencing violence hold more cash. Collectively, the evidence indicates that individuals experiencing violence prefer cash to mobile money. More speculatively, it appears that this is principally because of concerns about future violence. The degree of the relationship between cash holdings and violence is large enough to suggest that robust formal financial networks face severe challenges developing in conflict environments.
Registration Citation
Citation
Blumenstock, Joshua, Michael Callen and Tarek Ghani. 2016. "The Impact of Violence on Mobile Money Use in Afghanistan." AEA RCT Registry. October 03. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.1578-1.0.
Former Citation
Blumenstock, Joshua, Michael Callen and Tarek Ghani. 2016. "The Impact of Violence on Mobile Money Use in Afghanistan." AEA RCT Registry. October 03. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/1578/history/11019.
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Field Experiment: Employees of a large, Afghan-staffed firm were randomly assigned to receive their monthly salary payments in mobile money (treatment) or remain in the status quo cash payment system (control). This treatment induced random variation to an individual's propensity to adopt mobile money. To ensure consistency across treatment and control groups, all employees received new phones and were enrolled for accounts on the mobile money platform and trained in how to use the new technology.
Intervention Start Date
2012-07-01
Intervention End Date
2013-03-01
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Mobile money usage (mobile savings), cash savings
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Half of the employees in the experiment (171) were randomly assigned to the mobile salary system (mobile money treatment), while the other half (169) were paid by the existing cash-based system (control). Treatment was stratified at the province level, with two further blocking variables: the share of monthly income transferred to a family, and the level of monthly expenditure on phone airtime. In both cases, the variable’s distribution was divided into above and below the median, and the stratification was implemented using that definition. All employees received new phones and were enrolled for accounts on the mobile money platform and trained in how to use the new technology.

Treatment roll-out was staggered from July-October 2012. In addition to face-to-face baseline and endline data collection, monthly phone surveys were conducted with employees at all sites.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Computer randomization
Randomization Unit
341 employees
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
No cluster
Sample size: planned number of observations
341
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
171 mobile money treatment, 169 control
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
March 01, 2013, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
March 01, 2013, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
No cluster
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
No
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
340 employees
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
171 employees mobile money treatment, 169 employees control
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No

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Program Files
Program Files
No
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers
Abstract
We examine the relationship between violence and financial decisions in Afghanistan. Using three separate data sources, we find that individuals experiencing violence retain more cash and are less likely to adopt and use mobile money, a new financial technology. We first combine detailed information on the entire universe of mobile money transactions in Afghanistan with administrative records for all violent incidents recorded by international forces, and find a negative relationship between violence and mobile money use. Second, in the context of a randomized control trial, violence is associated with decreased mobile money use and greater cash balances. Third, in financial survey data from nineteen of Afghanistan's 34 provinces, we find that individuals experiencing violence hold more cash. Collectively, the evidence indicates that individuals experiencing violence prefer cash to mobile money. More speculatively, it appears that this is principally because of concerns about future violence. The degree of the relationship between cash holdings and violence is large enough to suggest that robust formal financial networks face severe challenges developing in conflict environments.
Citation
Blumenstock, Joshua, Michael Callen, and Tarek Ghani. “Violence and Financial Decisions: Evidence from Mobile Money in Afghanistan.” Working Paper, July 2014.