Mobile Money for the Financially Underserved in the U.S.: How can this Socio-Technical System work?

Primary author: Carlos Torres
Faculty sponsor: Robert Crossler

Primary college/unit: Carson College of Business
Campus: Pullman


In Forbes Technology Council, Toni Raval highlights that fintech is creating new alternatives addressing the unbanked /underbanked populations in developing economies by providing access to financial services, wherein three years (2014-2017) 515M adults obtained access to financial services unavailable before (Raval, 2019).
While this is happening in the developing world, and technology seems to be improving the lives of many people with no access to financial services, in the US CNN reported several cities and states banning cashless stores in order to prevent discrimination against unbanked people (Meyersohn, 2019). It seems contradictory that fintech can be seen as a mean for inclusion in many societies, but in the U.S., fintech is being used with the purpose of exclusion instead.
This in-progress critical research uses Bourdieu’s theory of practice (Bourdieu, 1977, 1990) to study the M-Money socio-technical system (Baxter & Sommerville, 2011; Bostrom & Heinen, 1977) addressing the financially underserved in the U.S. By using Values Sensitive Design (VSD) methodology considering human values of ethical import (Friedman & Kahn Jr, 2003), we offer initial theoretical insight and preliminary design principles for application providers developing technical solutions with the hope of preventing ongoing discrimination against financially underserved U.S. financially underserved.