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November 22, 2013

New & Noteworthy

By Alicia Brindisi

This week’s edition of New and Noteworthy highlights some innovative approaches to financial inclusion –a banking van, a new iPad app, and a new approach to delivering subsidies.

  • The World Bank released its most comprehensive report on financial inclusion to date.
     
  • “Gamification” was the hot buzzword a few years ago but has faded more recently. Nonetheless  this Wall Street Journal article illustrates that it’s still happening:   gaming behaviors and strategies are being used to promote financial literacy and management.
     
  • A new study on the 2009 Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act shows the legislation, which requires more regularity and transparency around credit card fees, has cut the cost of credit cards, particularly for borrowers with poor credit. The estimated overall savings for American consumers is $20.8 billion a year.
     
  • NPR explores “banking deserts.”  As banks close branches in economically depressed areas, residents experience a void of formal financial services not dissimilar to historical patterns of redlining and exclusion.
     
  • The Economist explores the trend of branchless, digital banking and its growing customer base – tech savvy 18-29 year olds.
     
  • For a different take on “mobile banking,” new programs in Uganda, Rwanda, and the Phillipines are bringing financial services like microinsurance, bank accounts, and financial literacy directly to their customers through banking vans.
     
  • According to a new report from The Pew Charitable Trusts on economic mobility,  43 percent of Americans raised at the bottom of the income ladder remain stuck there as adults, and 70 percent never make it to the middle.
     
  • Enno Schmidt’s work to promote a “basic income” policy in Switzerland was recently featured in The New York Times. The basic income approach would provide a lump sum of money to all citizens to cover living expenses, replacing separate housing, food, and other subsidies.
     
  • Researchers at IMTFI review the link between social capital and the use of mobile banking services like M-Pesa. These women often act as “brokers” – connecting groups who would not otherwise be connected. 

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