In October 2007, eBay acquired MicroPlace, a microfinance Website founded by social entrepreneur Tracey Pettengill Turner in 2005. Microfinance repayments average above 97 percent worldwide, much higher than American consumer lending repayment rates of around 85 percent.

Microfinance is used for small businesses in developing countries. In some African countries, thousands of tiny carriers are emerging where individual people become standalone mobile phone operators through the aid of microloans. They purchase a single mobile phone and a rooftop antenna that picks up cellphone signals as far as 25 kilometers away.

Other businesses include cybercafes. They emerge, for instance, in places like remote Kenya through the use of mobile EDGE technology where conventional Internet access (dialup, DSL, leased line) is usually far too expensive.

Mobile phones and the Internet also hold out the promise of bypassing, sometimes dictatorial or outright anarchistic, control of the media and empowering the people. Playing a key-factor in the overthrow of despots and the exposure of corruption, another huge problem for developing countries.

Another future promise is the delivery of medical assistance by phone or even telesurgery through the use of Internet devices. Although the prohibitive costs of the latter imply this will probably only be done small-scale through western funding for the foreseeable future.

(taken from The Internet & the Developing World, www.internetevolution.com)