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October 11, 2013

New & Noteworthy

By Alicia Brindisi

This week’s New and Noteworthy includes continued discussion on some of the issues we’ve been blogging about like how to best deliver financial literacy, the benefits of cash transfers, and reasons why digital payments sometimes have low take-up rates.

  • It seems we weren’t the only ones mulling over financial literacy last week. Richard H. Thaler, an economics professor at the Booth School, weighs in on the topic and the idea of “just in time” financial education for The New York Times.
  • Earlier this week, FAI’s Tim Odgen asked why people aren’t paying with mobile money. It’s a question that is also on the minds of mobile payment operators in India as take-up of digital payment systems has been slow. Even in the US, some feel that the existing comfort with banking systems poses a challenge for a larger digital monetary system as highlighted in The New Yorker.
     
  • In the debate on who should be on the front lines of digital payments – mobile operators or banks, GSMA argues that both are necessary for “cooperative competition,” which best serves customers.
  • In the absence of government investment and formal banking, one area in China has developed a complex network of informal “shadow banks” to support SMEs.
     
  • As cash transfers for the poor continues to gain traction as a development intervention,  GiveDirectly’s founder Paul Niehaus highlights their efficiency for NGOs and Aid Thoughts reminds us that while valuable, they cannot replace public goods.
     
  • IPA reviews conversations around financial inclusion at the recent “Toward the Better Banked” event in New York.  One fundamental question explored by participants was - Should our goal be "banking the underbanked" into our current system, or should we be focused on transforming the system itself?
  • And now for something completely different…David Roodman has a compelling blog post this week on why making the process in developing working papers (specifically those in the social sciences) more transparent is better for researchers everywhere.

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