Do you remember in the 1991 movie City Slickers, when Billy Crystal’s character is participating in his son’s career day at school? In an attempt to explain his radio advertising sales job, he comes to the conclusion that, “Basically, I sell air.”
Well, he’s not the only one. Turns out air, at least air time, is becoming a hot commodity. A tradeable one, too. In lesser developed countries where cell phones are king, people have begun using air time as currency.
People have long been purchasing air time, then selling it on the streets or renting out mobile phones with air time in more rural areas. But now we are seeing that air time used as currency for other goods and services. So, for example, if I wanted to purchase a coke, rather than pay for it with cash, I could pay for it with cell phone air time. I would simply transfer my minutes to the vendor. Its a relatively new system that is taking off like wildfire. Banks and networks have taken notice and are creating mobile banking systems to accomodate. Its a fascinating example of how communications is changing the developing world.
Read the report on iAfrica.