How mobile airtime remittance is changing lives in developing nations

A report this week from the World Bank recognised the importance of remittances in the global fight against poverty, one Irish start-up offers powerful alternative – mobile phone remittances.

A recent report by the World Bank reinforces the importance of migration and remittances to the global economy. By allowing people move to where they can be more productive, migration ultimately results in increased output and income in both origin and destination countries. The report states that remittances can reduce the severity of poverty in a variety of ways including higher capital accumulation, greater health and education expenditures, improve access to formal financial sector services and enhanced small business investment.

With the development of mobile technology and the ever-increasing access to handsets across the emerging world, the mobile phone plays an important role in amplifying the overall impact of remittances. Back in 2006, Irish entrepreneur Mark Roden recognised that the ability to transfer credit directly on to mobile phones abroad would be a convenient, safe complement to traditional money remittance and one that could have an exceptionally positive impact on the lives of the receivers.

“A topped-up mobile phone enables better access to information and communication technologies which empowers the individual and drives improved productivity, more entrepreneurship and better preparedness for natural disasters or epidemic outbreaks,” says Roden.

Connected to 4 billion phones across 130 countries, there are numerous ways in which ding* is being used to make a difference to people’s lives. There is Uriana, a 39 year old mother in rural Nicaragua who is totally cut off from modern day communications. Her sister in the US uses to send top-up to Uriana’s phone ensuring she gets the most out of it. When asked, Uriana confirmed that while being able to communicate is key, the best thing about receiving credit is that it allows her use Google to help her daughter with her homework.

Then there is Marvin, an aid worker with ActionAid Liberia who uses ding* to top-up phones of the field workers ensuring they can communicate, a critical lifeline during outbreaks such as Ebola. “The top-up goes a long way to help us obtain and share useful information – allowing us regularly call hospitals and update others in rural regions on vital medical information,” Marvin says.

Haiti Projects is a not-for-profit organisation focused on empowering women in rural Haiti. Partnering with ding*, they use top-up as a reward to boost productivity at the organisation’s sewing co-op as well as an incentive for women to keep vital appointments at their Family Planning clinics. “In Haiti, it is critical that we ensure that women have access to family planning services, education, and jobs so that another generation is not born into poverty. By using top-up to as an incentive for the women to keep their health care appointments, we are protecting Haiti’s future generation. Top-up empowers women, allowing them to access to services and to choices in their daily lives.” says Cherie Miot Abbanat CEO of Haiti Projects.

These disparate examples give just a taste of how a topped-up phone can help improved the lives of those in otherwise marginalised circumstances. Passionate about the impact of mobile phone remittance, Roden reflects: “While we play our part and donate free top-up to our charity partners, the real power is in the diaspora’s generosity and willingness to support loved ones in their country of origin. We deliver 100,000 top-ups every day – that’s 100,000 people helping families and friends through the power of mobile.”

About ding*

As the world’s largest top-up provider, ding* safely delivers a top-up every second of every day. Created to help people living abroad to support loved ones back home, the company is directly connected to 350 mobile operators in over 130 countries with a reach of over 4 billion phones. People can send top-up on, the mobile app and in more than 500,000 retail locations around the world. ding*employs 200 people and is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland with regional offices in Miami, Dubai, San Salvador, Bucharest and Dhaka. For more please visit