February 8, 2013
Focusing on financial access can sometimes obscure the rationale for doing so. We don’t really care about access to finance for its own sake. The point of providing quality financial services to poor households is to give them an easier, more stable path to prosperity. But what are the pitfalls and slippery spots on that path that we hope to ameliorate?
February 5, 2013
What’s next in financial access in 2013? Bindu Ananth and Deepti George say a focus on measuring and improving quality.
February 1, 2013
Whether the result of variable incomes, liquidity constraints or reduced access to formal financial services, poor households face unique financial constraints that undermine their ability to effectively guard against risk and accumulate meaningful savings. There’s been a lot of research into these questions in the last few years.
A new theory of change is emerging for microfinance. People from poor households tap microfinance services to smooth consumption and build assets to protect against risks ahead of time and cope with shocks and economic stress events after they occur—leading to widespread poverty alleviation but not widespread poverty reduction.
What’s next? Jamie Zimmerman says it's the opportunity to make government-to-person payments a major vehicle of financial inclusion.
January 25, 2013
Last November, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Office of Financial Empowerment hosted a conference on “Empowering Low-Income and Economically Vulnerable Consumers: Making the Case through Access, Data and Scale.” A key highlight of the conference was a breakout session about the incentives and obstacles to collecting data in the field.
One of the big changes observed in discussions over microfinance in the past few years has been increasing emphasis on discussing microfinance, rather than just microcredit. In practice this has meant a lot of discussion about microsavings, with advocates pointing to studies showing greater impacts from offering savings accounts than from offering loans.
January 22, 2013
The microfinance space has never been a dull place. As the tumult of the last few years—debates about effectiveness, industry crises and crashes in several countries—seemingly dies down, it’s a good time to speculate about what’s next. It seems clear that “business as usual” in terms of rapid growth and expansion paired with unvarnished enthusiasm and uncritical praise is not what’s next.
So what is?
January 16, 2013
At FAI, we’re big advocates for data. Why? Because you can’t make good policy without data. Data can be collected in many ways and come in many forms: transaction records, panel surveys, financial diaries, or field experiment results. We get excited about the opportunity to collect or analyze data about the financial behavior of poor households.
January 15, 2013
About 2.5 billion adults, just over half the world’s adult population, lack bank accounts. If we are to realize the goal of extending banking and other financial services to this vast “unbanked” population, we need to consider not only such product innovations as microfinance and mobile banking but also issues of data accuracy, impact assessment, risk mitigation, technology adaptation, financial literacy, and local context.