October 3, 2014
The U.S. Financial Diaries project, a joint initiative of NYU Wagner’s Financial Access Initiative (FAI) and The Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI), reveals hard-to-see aspects of the financial lives of working Americans, providing new insight for the design of financial services policies, programs and products for a broad range of Americans.
Each of the project's Household Profiles presents the...
September 30, 2014
People run their financial lives with a variety of tools. The first tools that come to mind are likely to be formal, like checking accounts and credit cards. But households often use informal tools that are harder to see from outside, like short-term loans from friends or relatives. Some people use informal financial services because they lack access—or believe they lack access—to quality products or because they do not trust formal options. It’s tempting to think that these informal tools are last resorts, or second-best solutions, but informal financial mechanisms are often combined with...
September 26, 2014
1. Impact Evaluations: Most impact evaluations look at interventions to improve the lives of the poor, but are they actually making poor people’s lives better? The World Bank - Development Impact
2. Financial Inclusion: Elisabeth...
September 26, 2014
Recently Upsides sat down with FAI’s Jonathan Morduch to discuss his views on the current state of microfinance and his current project – US Financial Diaries. Morduch highlights that whether in the developing world or the US, the poor face many of the same financial struggles, which is why understanding money management strategies at the household level a crucial step to providing more effective financial services to the poor:
A person like myself tends to have a much more regular income...
September 24, 2014
This week’s UN General Assembly meetings brought renewed attention to the set of global goals that will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) when they expire in 2015.
The latest draft of the new “Sustainable Development Goals” (SDGs) is a kitchen-sink-like receptacle for the interests of every possible development constituency. There are some obvious and glaring problems with this. To focus on the plus side, though, this enormous brain dump allows space for some intriguing new thinking about what the global community can and should...
September 19, 2014
1. Credit: In 2013, 4 million workers, or about 3% of all employees, had wages garnished for a consumer debt in 2013 - sometimes at rates of up to 25% per paycheck....
September 18, 2014
“If you build it, he will come.” Unfortunately, this line that worked so well in Field of Dreams is less effective in the world of social enterprise. Simply producing and having the networks to distribute a product does not guarantee its success—to be successful, a product must address a customer need.
What better way to understand customers’ needs, wants, and limitations than to involve them in the design process? This customer-...
September 11, 2014
Financial Access Initiative
Think back on the past year in your financial life: the money you received from work, loans or gifts, the purchases large and small, the bank deposits and withdrawals. Now imagine keeping track of every one of those transactions - regardless of your income level, it would be a mind-boggling endeavor.
September 11, 2014
In what seems to me an unfortunate conflation, the literature on women’s empowerment frequently relies on the same characterization as pornography: “you have trouble defining it but you know it when you see it.” If “empowerment” is hard to define, it is even harder to measure. This is a problem for researchers trying to establish a clear causal relationship...