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...
March 13, 2015
1. Peer Lending: A new study reports lenders in online peer-to-peer lending models were able to predict a borrower's credit worthiness with 45% more accuracy than traditional credit scoring. NextBillion
2. Microcredit: Growing incidences of over-indebtedness in Cambodia are causing some to worry the country may face the next microfinance crisis. Is Cambodia...
March 6, 2015
1. Mobile Banking: The newly released report, State of the Industry 2014: Mobile Financial Services for the Unbanked, shows 255 mobile money services are now live across 89 countries and the number of registered mobile money accounts globally grew to just under 300 million in 2014. GSMA
2. Health: "When you ask people what impacts...
March 5, 2015
Last week a coalition of NYC-based nonprofits released a report on the financial status of immigrants in Queens. It’s part of a growing body of research drawing attention to how financial service providers can meet the distinct needs of America’s...
March 3, 2015
Today, the GSMA Mobile Money for the Unbanked (MMU) programme releases its 2014 State of the Industry Report on mobile financial services. Published annually, the report provides industry practitioners with insights into the important developments taking place in mobile money, mobile insurance, mobile savings and mobile credit.
The mobile financial services sector continued to expand in 2014, boosted by the creation of more enabling regulatory frameworks in several markets. With 255...
February 27, 2015
1. Remittances: A number of large banks are no longer operating in certain countries in the global south in response to growing pressure from regulators to comply with rules on anti-money laundering and financing of terrorism. But this movement of "de-banking" means less money in the pockets of families who receive remittances as well as more cash traveling through informal channels. Center for Global Development...