Never, in the history of mankind, has a nation been as wealthy as when it is free. Free to allow markets to provide to its citizenry the choice of products at a price that reflects their value. When governments restrict this choice, restrict this trade and restrict these rights, the people of those nations suffer, become less free and less wealthy. In short, they are worse off than they otherwise would have been.
Proof of this, as if it needed to be proven yet again, has been demonstrated in such remote places as Kenya. Mobile phones are being used as means to transport and transfer money. This allows people the opportunity to spend, sell and save capital and, without surprise, increases their well being.
ONCE the toys of rich yuppies, mobile phones have evolved in a few short years to become tools of economic empowerment for the world’s poorest people. These phones compensate for inadequate infrastructure, such as bad roads and slow postal services, allowing information to move more freely, making markets more efficient and unleashing entrepreneurship. All this has a direct impact on economic growth: an extra ten phones per 100 people in a typical developing country boosts GDP growth by 0.8 percentage points, according to the World Bank. More than 4 billion handsets are now in use worldwide, three-quarters of them in the developing world
Extending mobile money to other poor countries, particularly in Africa and Asia, would have a huge impact. It is a faster, cheaper and safer way to transfer money than the alternatives, such as slow, costly transfers via banks and post offices, or handing an envelope of cash to a bus driver. Rather than spend a day travelling by bus to the nearest bank, recipients in rural areas can spend their time doing more productive things. The incomes of Kenyan households using M-PESA have increased by 5-30% since they started mobile banking, according to a recent study.
Less restriction, more freedom. Bring on the free market!