The mobile social credit card

Posted on Mon, Jul 12, 2010 – 05:09 am at |

MoneyGram International announced the expansion of its mobile transfer service to approximately 40,000 agent locations in the United States. The global money transfer company offering expansion follows its pilot program of select California and Hong Kong agent locations to 40 million Philippines SMART phone users.

By the end of this year, all of (the National Irish Bank’s) remaining 33 branches will be cash-free. About a fifth are already cashless, offering only financial advice. Concurrently, the European Central Bank wants a single electronic-payments system across all member states and with a phasing out of checks.

Some recent Javelin research points out:

  • The number of U.S. adults who own mobile phones dropped markedly in 2010, falling to 74%, down from 85% in 2009.
  • About 20% of all U.S. adults now tote a smartphone, as do 27% of mobile phone owners.
  • One in five consumers now using mobile banking.
  • Only 18 of the top 40 U.S. banks now offer mobile banking.

However, 20% of 1.5 billion with mobiles but without bank accounts will use mobile money by 2012 according to Economist in 2009.

I’m always whining about the fact that federal taxes don’t adequately account for hours donated to Non-Governmental Organizations and Non-Profit Organizations, so I suggested to Ideablob awhile back what I thought was a cool approach to track social capital–"The Social Credit Card". A (now mobile) credit system whereby one’s charitable activities such as volunteer hours are tracked and compensated. Every time one makes a social contribution (helping a neighbor, volunteering at a homeless shelter, donating to charity, etc.) they accumulate points. A social contribution’s value would be set at the rate a federal employee would be compensated to complete the same or similar task. Accountants would volunteer their time to help track these things.

Similar to frequent flyer miles, these points would be redeemable, for the purchasing of goods or services (e.g., healthcare services). The points could also be used to pay down debt or donated to other individuals or charities as a financial contribution. By combining social with financial capital we would create incentives for good works and a more comprehensive picture of one’s net worth–and provide an excellent way to do a census of how much healthcare related volunteerism goes unnoticed and uncompensated.