Mobile to enhance workers’ financial security, productivity and workplace safety

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Six mobile services bring secure wage payments, learning programmes and workplace safety reporting to workers in emerging markets.

The Vodafone Connected Worker report, published today, says mobile money payroll (mPayroll) could enable secure, cost-effective wage payments to be made to millions of unbanked workers by 2020, reducing corruption, lessening the risk of payday robbery and reducing the time spent travelling and waiting to receive cash wages.

mPayroll, one of the six mobile solutions identified in the report, will give people greater control over their finances, enabling simple onward payment of bills and remittances to family members using mobile money without having to pay ‘cash-in’ charges, says the report, commissioned by Vodafone with research undertaken by Accenture across 12 markets (DRC, Egypt, Fiji, Ghana, India, Qatar, Lesotho, Mozambique, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania and Turkey).

mPayroll is already being implemented by Safaricom in Kenya, where mobile text payment service M-Pesa is paying exam supervisors across 60,000 schools. Recent research by USAID found these workers welcomed the time saved by not having to collect payments, the guarantee of being paid on time - particularly in the rainy season when trucks carrying wages are often delayed - and the ability to be paid without a bank account. This has reduced the cost of making these payments to workers by 86 per cent. The report says mPayroll could be used by 48 million workers, as well as offer business savings of US$2.8 billion annually.

Vodafone Connected Worker also highlights that mobile phones can be used to improve, and potentially, save lives in global supply chains. High mobile phone penetration in emerging markets enables purchasers to conduct anonymous text-based surveys quickly and cheaply across their supply chains to gather information on safety and work environment issues, says the report. Companies are increasingly focused on ensuring working conditions and pay in their global supply chains are acceptable. The Worker Panel mobile solution enables the gathering of anonymous data directly from factory, industrial and agriculture workers regularly and in real-time.

Vodafone Connected Worker found that the six identified mobile services could have wider financial benefits for organisations, saving them $30.6 billion by 2020 through improved productivity, while providing $7.7bn of financial benefits to workers.

Other mobile solutions identified in the report include:

  • mIdentity solutions can be used to enhance corporate security and provide authentication for workers when dealing with customers. By 2020, this could reach 16 million people and offer organisational benefits of US$1.5 billion annually.
  • Job Finder offers a subscription-based service to match workers to jobs. It has the potential to reach 49 million workers and could match 12 million workers to jobs annually by 2020, improving livelihoods by US$5.6 billion.
  • Fieldforce Enablement provides remote access to corporate systems and facilitates better scheduling, enhancing the productivity, safety and effectiveness of workers. These services could reach over 30 million users, delivering organisational benefits of US$24.9 billion annually by 2020.
  • mLearning could deliver basic skills training in literacy and numeracy as well as job-related training via mobile. mLearning has the potential to reach 12 million workers and benefit organisations by US$1.4 billion annually by 2020.

Andrew Dunnett, Vodafone Group’s Director of Sustainability and Director, Vodafone Foundation, says: “Mobile solutions have the potential to improve workers' lives and save money in the boardroom, helping organisations improve productivity, transparency and security. Whether it is mobile monitoring of the supply chain or using a mobile phone to pay wages, the potential for positively transforming the workplace in these markets, for both employers and workers, is significant.”

Justin Keeble, Managing Director, Accenture Sustainability Services, Europe, Africa and Latin America, says: “Mass ownership of mobiles in emerging markets enables western brands to connect directly to workers in global supply chains. Using simple SMS messages, brands can monitor workplace conditions in real time - supporting improved labour standards and workplace safety.”