One of the most promising innovations in the digital payments space has been on the delivery of government benefits through electronic payments systems in developing countries. Now, an impact evaluation of digitization of government payments in India by Karthik Muralidharan (UCSD), Paul Niehaus (UCSD) and Sandip Sukhtankar (Dartmouth) finds encouraging results.
In one of the largest randomized impact evaluations to date – covering 19 million people – Muralidharan and colleagues study the recent rollout of the...
May 2, 2014
1. Poverty in the US: Despite improved living standards, the poor in the US have fallen further behind the middle class and the affluent in both income and consumption. In addition, the cost of many services crucial to escaping poverty — including education, health care and child care — has soared. ...
May 2, 2014
Last week we blogged about the puzzle of low adoption of mobile banking accounts in Bangladesh. When we ask, people say they’re interested in mobile banking accounts. So why don’t they adopt the new technology? And why are rates of adoption so high in some places, like Kenya, and so low in Bangladesh?
This week we zoom in on one particular aspect of the adoption puzzle, and discuss the possibility that there are social phenomena (“peer effects...
May 1, 2014
Financial Access Initiative
As the semester comes to a close, some of you are gearing up to travel for internships and post-grad positions with organizations focused on microfinance, financial inclusion, or household money management. We at FAI are interested in hearing from you about your first-hand interactions with people using financial services for a planned series of blog posts based on your summer experience.
FAI is a research center housed at NYU Wagner focused on exploring how financial services can improve the lives of poor households. We recognize that the world’s poor live complex...
April 23, 2014
A collaboration between the Gates Foundation and the Gallup World Poll has gathered new data on remittances for a broad set of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and in South Asia, home to many growing markets for mobile banking and money transfers.
Collected jointly with the Global Findex data, the new data include answers to questions such as:“...
April 21, 2014
On a recent trip to Bangladesh, one question kept pestering me: if mobile bank accounts are so good for the poor, why haven’t they adopted them already? After all, financial products and services for the poor have the potential to improve lives, but only if they are actually adopted and used.
I traveled to Bangladesh to set up a randomized controlled trial to test for the impacts of mobile banking on financial management, food security, health and self-reported well-being for poor households. By randomly varying whether households have access to trainings on...
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...