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Abstract

Through various applications, the importance of mobile technologies has been more evident in developing economies since the late 1990s. One such application has been mobile money services, where mobile network subscribers transfer money electronically via a mobile phone, thus eliminating some of the developing countries’ persistent barriers to financial services for instance financial market exclusion and remoteness. Despite mobile technologies’ anticipated potential towards rural socio-economic development, there is however yet a very limited empirical focus on their welfare impacts. Using regression models and a panel data of 874 observations collected from predominantly coffee farmers in central Uganda, we argue that mobile money use has a positive impact on several income-enhancing mechanisms along the income pathway to smallholder household welfare. Compared to non-users, rural households using mobile money sell more of their coffee produce in a high-value form as shelled beans, receive higher prices for these shelled beans, and earn more off-farm income, with or without remittances. All these mechanisms enhance incomes, thus welfare.

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