April 16, 2015
The third study for our spotlight on current microfinance research is a working paper by Afzal et al. presented at the 2014 NEUDC which delves into the similarity between savings and credit products. The authors conduct a lab experiment among women in rural Pakistan who are or have been microfinance clients.
The experiment runs in three sessions...
April 14, 2015
Tim is worried about the state of microcredit research, particularly research on product innovation, in the aftermath of the six microcredit evaluations published in the January edition of the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics. (For an overview of reactions, see our special edition of the FAIV.) That prompted me to explore the microfinance research...
April 10, 2015
1. Digital Payments: A body of research contains evidence that people spend more with credit cards than cash because the former reduces the "pain of paying." Do mobile wallets like Apple Pay increase or relieve this pain? The Atlantic
2. G2P Transfers: The US doesn't drug test farmers receiving crop subsidies or requirePell Grant...
April 9, 2015
We often talk about how access to financial instruments may complement entrepreneurship. Financial instruments such as vehicles for savings and loans may help to encourage entrepreneurship and investment by making it possible for individuals to make larger investments and to hoard returns for the future. Less has been said about the interaction between financial access and wage work, but a recent paper by Michael Callen, Suresh De Mel, Craig McIntosh and Christopher Woodruff shows, perhaps surprisingly, that a...
April 3, 2015
1. Microfinance: FAI’s Jonathan Morduch discusses the limitations of microfinance, the promise of new technologies, and the need for quality, effective financial services for the poor. The Wall Street Journal
2. Student Debt: A burgeoning student loan repayment strike is gaining attention from the US government. It bears a striking resemblance to microcredit repayment crises...
March 27, 2015
1. Ultra-Poor Programs: A newly published paper from Jonathan Bauchet, Shamika Ravi, and FAI's Jonathan Morduch looks at "ultra-poor" programs and how labor markets affect outcomes. Journal of Development Economics (paywall)
March 20, 2015
1. Savings Groups: In an evaluation of savings group outreach programs in Kenya, NGO-led groups had better attendance rates, saved more, had larger payouts, and lower rates of reported loss than groups formed spontaneously. FSD Kenya
2. Mobile Money: Kenya may be the current media darling when it comes to mobile money, but Tanzania's success story is due for its share of the spotlight. ...
March 20, 2015
Financial Access Initiative
This week, The Wall Street Journal featured a pair of articles on current issues in microfinance. The first highlights the varied strategies governments across Asia are employing to promote financial inclusion, including mobile technologies and India's policy of universal bank accounts. However, some are concerned about the $80 overdraft feature of these accounts, and liken the potential risk of indebtedness to the past failures of microfinance. FAI's Executive Director Jonathan Morduch notes that indeed, microfinance's impact on poverty alleviation...
March 19, 2015
Given the mixed results of recent randomized evaluations of microfinance, an open question is whether there are broad limits to the benefits of microloans or whether programs can be tailored in specific ways to maximize impact. Two features of microfinance programs that may matter are targeting and product design. A recent working paper by Pushkar Maitra, Sandip Mitra, Dilip Mookherjee, Alberto Motta and Sujata Visaria investigates the role of these features by studying a...
March 16, 2015
Shamsin Ahmed, Kazi Amit Imran
Bill and Melinda Gates’ 2015 annual letter bets that over the next 15 years mobile banking will have a transformational effect on the lives of the poor. In Bangladesh, about 70% of the population is unbanked, yet an equivalent percentage of the population—not necessarily the same people though—has access to mobile phones. Put two and two together and...