The Role of Mobile Payment Technology in Sustainable and Human-Centric Development: Evidence from the Post-Demonetization Period in India


Mobile payment technology has aided in socio-economic development through financial inclusion and protective security during crises. However, there is a gap in understanding whether this technology has the potential for sustainable development that encompasses individual emancipation and environmental growth beyond social and economic change. To evaluate mobile payments role in sustainable human-centric development, we develop a framework based on the theories by two influential development economists—Schumacher and Sen (Schumacher 2011; Sen 2001). The framework includes features like the low-cost technology, easy implementation and operability, usefulness to local people, and scope for creative appropriation. We conducted an in-depth field study through interviews with merchants and consumers to evaluate the framework. We triangulate our findings with publicly available secondary survey data. Our findings indicate that along with the features like low-cost, easy installation and operability, users reported that the mobile payment technology, unlike cash transactions, can also afford creative uses such as reflection on past expenses. The paper contributes to the field of ICT4D with the framework that can be used by future studies. The investigation reveals developmental implications towards the need for greater inclusion of local small-scale vendors.

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  1. 1.

    United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is an independent organization that is primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid and development assistance ( 2019).

  2. 2.

    Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is the central banking regulator of India.

  3. 3.

    Paan is a local chewable prepared using beetle leaves and nuts. Small vendors, referred to as paan shops, sell paan, cigarettes, and other titbits, which are usually items in very low price ranges.

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    International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that coordinates standards for telecommunications (ITU 2017)


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Table 4 Demographics of respondents, with language of the interviews
Table 5 Summary of secondary data- USAID survey

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Pal, A., De’, R. & Herath, T. The Role of Mobile Payment Technology in Sustainable and Human-Centric Development: Evidence from the Post-Demonetization Period in India. Inf Syst Front 22, 607–631 (2020).

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  • Mobile payments
  • Sustainable development
  • Schumacher
  • Sen’s freedoms
  • ICT4D
  • Demonetization
  • Human empowerment