Doctoral Student

Karthik Balasubramanian

Karthik received BS degrees in Electrical Engineering and Economics from Duke University. After graduation, he joined the Boston Consulting Group in Washington DC. He ​then worked in Tanzania and Malawi with the Duke Global Health Institute before joining the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Financial Services for the Poor team focused on mobile banking in East Africa and South Asia prior to beginning the doctoral program. His main interests relate to optimization in humanitarian efforts.​

Working Papers

  1. Mobile Money: The Effect of Service Quality and Competition on Demand

    Karthik Balasubramanian and David F. Drake

    The use of electronic money transfer through cellular networks ("mobile money") is rapidly increasing in the developing world. The resulting electronic currency ecosystem could improve the lives of the estimated 2 billion people who live on less than $2 a day by facilitating more secure, accessible, and reliable ways to store and transfer money than are currently available. The development of this ecosystem requires a network of agents to conduct cash-for-electronic value transactions and vice versa. This paper estimates the effect of competition and service quality on mobile money demand. In this setting, service quality consists of service reliability (lower stockout and system downtime rates), pricing transparency, and agent expertise. Among our results, we find that agents experience reduced demand for service failures due to stockouts, but not for service failures due to network downtime, suggesting that consumers differentially ascribe responsibility for service failure based on the type of failure they experience. We find that both stockout rate and agent expertise are important competitive dimensions in this setting. Pricing transparency, on the other hand, has a main effect on demand but has no significant interaction with competitive intensity. This paper furthers our understanding of the impact and interaction of quality and competition in service settings, while developing a foundation for the exploration of mobile money by OM scholars.

    Keywords: service operations; operations strategy; competition; base of the pyramid; mobile money; Competition; Currency; Service Operations; Mobile Technology;


    Balasubramanian, Karthik, and David F. Drake. "Mobile Money: The Effect of Service Quality and Competition on Demand." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 15-059, January 2015. View Details