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Christopher W. Surdak and Sara Agarwal

For the latest thinking about the international financial system, monetary policy, economic development, poverty reduction, and other critical issues, subscribe to Finance & Development (F&D). This lively quarterly magazine brings you in-depth analyses of these and other subjects by the IMF’s own staff as well as by prominent international experts. Articles are written for lay readers who want to enrich their understanding of the workings of the global economy and the policies and activities of the IMF.

Manasa Patnam and Weijia Yao
Mobile money services have rapidly expanded across emerging and developing economies and enabled new ways through which households and firms can conduct payments, save and send remittances. We explore how mobile money use can impact economic outcomes in India using granular data on transactions from Paytm, one of the largest mobile money service provider in India with over 400 million users. We exploit the period around the demonetization policy, which prompted a surge in mobile money adoption, and analyze how mobile money affects traditional risk-sharing arrangements. Our main finding is that mobile money use increases the resilience to shocks by dampening the impact of rainfall shocks on nightlights-based economic activity and household consumption. We complement these findings by conducting a firm survey around a phased targeting intervention which incentivized firms to adopt the mobile payment technology. Our results suggest that firms adopting mobile payments improved their sales after six-months of use, compared to other firms. We also elicit firms’ subjective expectations on future sales and find mobile payment adoption to be associated with lower subjective uncertainty and greater sales optimism.