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September 23, 2013

New & Noteworthy

By Alicia Brindisi

After a short break, New and Noteworthy returns with a discussion on financial literacy, the true cost of cash, and the status of payment systems around the world.
 

  • A new report from the Gates Foundation compares payment systems in more than 30 countries incorporating insights from more than 100 interviews with regulators and payments providers from around the world, including banks and telecommunications companies. It includes in-depth investigations in six countries – China, India, Kenya, Nigeria, the Netherlands and the United States.
     
  • A blog post from the Harvard Business Review reports on the current status of the world’s women entrepreneurs, who now represent owners of 37% of SMEs globally.
     
  • A US-based company called RoboCoin announced it will launch kiosks throughout Canada that allow customers to convert Bitcoins into cash.
     
  • The New America Foundation released a report arguing that America has moved from a High Wages-Low Prices-Welfare system to a Low Wages-Low Prices-Tax Break system. The report highlights the drawbacks of this new system and offers some alternative structures.
     
  • The New Yorker reviews a recent study by The Fletcher School at Tufts that shows low-income Americans spend an average of more than three times as much as their high-income counterparts to access cash.
     
  • Can soap operas be a force for social change? According to The World Bank, there is evidence to suggest they can. A study in South Africa shows viewers of a popular television show Scandal! improved their financial literacy and behavior after watching episodes that incorporated financial education messages. On a related note, The World Bank blog explores the difference between financial literacy and financial capacity.
     
  • This past week, the US Census Bureau released its annual report on poverty rates in the US. While the figures provide a snapshot of the economic situation in America, NPR reminds its listeners that the poverty rate does not include income from benefit programs such as food stamps and also does not take into consideration differences in cost of living for various localities.
     
  • A new mobile payment service focused on Latin America called Regalii allows individuals to transfer funds by purchasing “mobile gift cards” at specific retailers—so that remittance senders can control where funds are spent. 

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