When University of Arkansas – Fort Smith graduate Hunter Delarm of Macon, Mo., began working in the Department of External Funding at UAFS to help find grants for the university, he never imagined he would end up receiving a grant that would help him in his studies.
But that’s exactly what happened after Delarm and one of his professors, Dr. Jim Wollscheid in the College of Business, were approved for a $10,000 grant for research into examining possible factors that have caused growth in mobile banking services. The grant was given from the Bank of America Research Fund Honoring James H. Penick from the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.
Specifically, the grant will help Wollscheid and Delarm’s studies into the correlation between government corruption and the tendency of citizens to use third-party mobile banking to secure loans, particularly in the areas of sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.
“Our thinking is that whenever you’re coming across a country with a lot of corruption and bribery, you would look at these alternative sources of banking,” Delarm said. “It’s not like mobile banking as we know it, where you may use your banking app to transfer funds, but a system through which they can get some low-cost loans and conduct other banking transactions.”
“We hope that understanding some of the cultural factors that have given rise to mobile banking in developing countries could apply to the unbanked or underbanked here in the United States,” Wollscheid said.
The duo plans to use the funds to help acquire additional sets of data that would benefit their research, and the money may also help fund a trip for Delarm and Wollscheid to a conference to present their findings.
Delarm’s research began after he took a class in the College of Business to develop research projects and ideas. After finding a passion for currency, he worked with Wollscheid to narrow in on a research topic.
“I think it’s very interesting how we as a civilization have grown and changed our ways of paying for goods and services over the years,” Delarm said. “I went to Dr. Wollscheid during the summer of 2016 to pick my topic. He recommended that I look into the mobile banking industry. We looked and eventually found some data on mobile banking within developing countries. This allowed us to analyze it and we eventually determined that places like Africa have unusually high amounts of mobile banking activities.”
Wollscheid found the grant for Delarm, which the two applied for jointly.
“I couldn’t have done this sort of research without Dr. Wollscheid’s help,” Delarm said. “He is a great professor and a kindhearted person. I am very thankful that he mentored me through this process.”
“Hunter has been full of energy and was excited to hear that we had won the grant,” Wollscheid said. “He is graduating this spring but has agreed to help me finish the project this summer. Hunter is an exemplary student who wants to expand his knowledge outside of the classroom and is willing to work to see that accomplished.”
Delarm graduated this spring with a degree in business administration and plans to finish his research obligations by July. But he will be leaving the university with fond memories of the opportunities he’s received here.
“UAFS offers a unique college experience. The professors are willing to work with the students and engage in the students’ lives,” he said. “These last three years here at UAFS have been an amazing experience for me. I will miss this place and will never forget the many memories I have made.”