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UCI Institute for Money, Technology & Financial Inclusion awarded $4.17 million

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant supports research on monetary practices in developing nations

IRVINE, Calif. -- UC Irvine's Institute for Money, Technology & Financial Inclusion has received a $4.17 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to continue research on current and potential uses of mobile technology in providing banking and financial services to people in developing countries. The four-year grant brings the IMTFI's total Gates Foundation funding to more than $6.13 million since the institute's founding in 2008.

In three years of operation, the IMTFI has supported 54 research projects in 32 countries, including Haiti, where, in early 2010, institute researchers Heather Horst and Erin Taylor were on the ground when a devastating 7.0 earthquake struck. With plans already in place to study the social uses of mobile phones on the Haiti/Dominican Republic border, their project took on a new sense of urgency. Joined by Espelencia Baptiste, an anthropologist from Michigan's Kalamazoo College, the research team worked in concert with the Gates Foundation and USAID to accelerate the development of mobile money transfer services in the disaster-stricken region. Digicel and Voila are the two mobile carriers currently providing such services to the island nation, thanks to the collaborative effort.

To read the full press release, visit the UC Irvine web site.

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