Bill Maurer is Dean of the School of Social Sciences; Professor of Anthropology, Law and Criminology, Law and Society; and the Director of the Institute for Money, Technology, and Financial Inclusion at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of
Most people around the world buy airtime for their mobile phones on an as-needed basis, instead of having a subscription to a cellular service. In some parts of the world, people started sending airtime credits to one another as a form of payment. This unanticipated use case of the mobile phone inspired the development of mobile money services. This chapter provides an account of airtime as a form of money, and considers the regulations and risks around mobile money.