April 18, 2014
1. Digital Payments: Facebook is finalizing preparations to begin offering financial services to its users, allowing them to store and exchange money. CNBC
2. Remittances: A new report on the impact of remittance fees on Africa's development investment claims that reducing charges to 5% would increase transfers...
April 15, 2014
Last week the New York Times highlighted a trend among low-income communities: people seeking tax prep at unregulated, sometimes fraudulent, pop-up shops. The article explains, "for millions of low-income Americans tax season means the biggest one-time influx of money all year." When preparers hand these customers a lump sum much larger than they're used to seeing on a daily basis, many filers don't think to check...
April 14, 2014
This blog post is co-written with Barbara Magnoni and Laura Budzyna.
Do clients get value from microinsurance? This was a straightforward question asked of the MILK Project over three years ago. And as the Project comes to an end, we have come up with a perhaps uninspiring answer: Sometimes. But keep reading- the inspiration is in the nuance.
Insurance is one of many coping strategies that low-income people might use when faced with a financial shock. It is rarely sufficient, and as such, even when people have...
April 11, 2014
New & Noteworthy is now The FAIV! What's The FAIV? It's the same weekly, curated list of financial access news items from around the web but is also available as a weekly newsletter. We'll be posting what we feel are five insightful and though-provoking pieces each week on our blog but if you sign up for our email version, you'll also never miss an update and will get some added features. To subscribe via email, click on "Stay Informed" in the side bar on our homepage. ...
April 9, 2014
There has been plenty written on the failure of microcredit-funded enterprises to grow or achieve more than minimal profitability. If you’re curious why microenterprises don’t grow, I recommend reading a new piece that provides some insight into the life of a microentrepreneur. It’s from an unexpected source: a Fast Company magazine article about the emerging world of task-based “...
April 7, 2014
Two weeks ago I attended a Payments Bootcamp put on by Glenbrook Partners (a 2-day class they hold several times a year) to learn more about how the payments industry works behind the scenes. There is a lot to learn. Two days allows more than just scratching the surface, but not much more. While the class is focused on the payments infrastructure in the United States particularly, the material illuminates the evolution of mobile money and digital payments in the developing world.
A better understanding of the economics of the...
April 3, 2014
On my recent trip to Bangladesh, I had the good luck to cross paths with and chat over dinner with Maria May and Amanda Misiti, two members of the Social Innovation Lab at BRAC who are engaged in advancing the organization’s mobile money agenda. Founded in 1972 in a rural village in Bangladesh, BRAC is one of the world’s largest and most influential nonprofits, serving by its estimates over 135 million people in need.
Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, BRAC’s Social Innovation Lab is sponsoring a new BRAC Innovation Fund for Mobile Money. The fund will implement the...
April 2, 2014
Last month brought a flurry of opinions on postal banking in response to a new proposal that the US Post Office offer financial services – including bill-pay, check cashing, even small loans – to the “financially underserved.” Reactions have ranged from enthusiastic to deeply skeptical. This post highlights two key questions that have been posed and synthesizes some of the answers offered up so far.
March 31, 2014
I recently attended the launch event for Bill Easterly’s latest book, The Tyranny of Experts. His thesis is that international development policies have been determined by a group of so-called experts, who both ignore the rights of the poor and systemically violate those rights. After his presentation, Professor Easterly urged the audience to start more discussions that...