Mona Chalabi of the Guardian data blog published an interesting article yesterday about the global distribution of ATMs based on World Bank data. In her article she mapped the total number of ATMs worldwide and showed that Brazil has the largest number of cash machines (159,898) followed by Canada and France. Looking at this, we decided to take a quick look at the countries with the fewest number of ATMs per capita, using our tool Mapsdata, together with Datawrapper, to see what we could learn.

Looking at the bottom twenty countries (where data is available), we noticed that most of them are places where mobile to mobile payments have been far more widely adopted or recently rolled out.  Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Madagascar, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, the Republic of Congo, Ghana,  Ethiopia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Bangladesh all have fairly well established mobile phone payment services. Visa and MasterCard launched a mobile phone payment service this year in Myanmar.

According to the IFC, Tanzania’s MPESA mobile to mobile transfer service saw registration reach just under 300,000 users within fourteen months of launching, with $5.5 million worth of transfers per month. Across parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, mobile to mobile money transfers have become a policy strategy for bringing the ‘unbanked’  into the economy.

This brief investigation left us wondering what the relationship of this adoption of mobile banking is to other predictors, such as the number of mobile phone masts per capita, as well as wondering what are the most accurate predictors for the adoption of new payment systems like Bitcoin?

Mapsdata visualization showing the global distribution of ATMs per capita (per 100 000 population between the ages of 15 and 64)

Sources and further reading:

Ernst and Young publication, Mobile Banking: Financial Services Meet the Electronic Wallet

African Development Bank publication, Financial Inclusion and Integration through Mobile Payments and Transfer

African Development Bank publication, Mobile Banking in Africa: Taking the Bank to the People