The end of payola?

Staff writer
30 May 2011

What's a corrupt bureaucrat to do? When you can skim 20% off the pay of Afghani police before the cash is distributed you come home with a nice payday. Now, a money transfer system created by Vodafone is unrolling a pilot project to pay 5% of Aghanistan's 110,000 police through their mobile phones.

Bloomberg says the system is already having similar success in Kenya where mobile banking saves patrons three hours and $3 per transaction compared to traditional methods.

Already the program "brings me more money because it has stopped the people who used to steal part of my salary every month," said Khair Muhammad, a Jalrez policeman. The program should increase morale and the pay of a disheartened police force that sees a 30% defection per year.

The Taliban detest the new system as well; they attack cell towers and had made a habit of robbing the cash deliveries. But those hurdles, as well as three-mile high signal-blocking mountains, have already been overcome by the 40% of Aghanis with cellphones. This compares to the 7% with conventional bank accounts.

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