This reminds me of an equally interesting project called Question box that converts discarded phone booths in rural villages into a knowledge re-sources.
The idea was simple:
Users place a free call by pushing the green button. They connect to an operator sitting in front of an Internet-enabled computer. Users ask the operator questions. The operator goes online and finds their answers, translating them into the local language.
Question Box brings relevant information to people who cannot access the Internet directly. It overcomes barriers of illiteracy, language and limited penetration in rural India and Africa. Villagers have access to immediate, relevant information using the most simple mode of communication: voice.
While this is great, Question Box’s successful pilots coupled with Deb’s post brings up an interesting question. Can these same discarded phone booths also serve the purpose of collecting micro payments? – Phone booths already have the ability to collect money and transmit data over phone lines.
With little modification, phone booths could serve to kick start micro payments in rural Africa for those still be disconnected to the banking and communication grid.
These are my $0.02 ; your thoughts welcome ..