Week of January 19, 2015

1. The Gates Letter: The Gates Foundation, while relatively small in the universe of global development, has begun to play an agenda-influencing role. One of their areas of focus is mobile banking and payments.  Quartz tells us more. Chris Blattman continues his tradition of grading the entire letter. The Washington Post

2.  Mobile Money:  But new technologies also bring new risks. Reports from Kenya show a proliferation of digital fraud - the "Nigerian e-mail scam for the Mobile Age."  Christian Science Monitor

3. Credit Scores:  The New York Times profiles big data alternatives to credit scoring models.  Meanwhile, David Porteous and Ignacio Mas remind us that debt repayment history is a relatively new tool used as a “test of character…summarized in a three-digit score”.  They suggest avoiding single prescriptions and enabling multiple (formal and informal) avenues for credit access.  NextBillion

4. Digital Banking: Customers of India’s ICICI Bank can now do their banking in 140 characters or less through its new Twitter-based service.  Users can transfer funds to anyone within the country that has a Twitter account and can also check their balance or top up their mobile airtime. (But the scammers in #2 are probably paying close attention too.)  Banking Tech 

5. Agricultural Finance:  Promissory notes from American sharecroppers highlight a financial predicament not dissimilar to many smallholder farmers of today - few (and expensive) options to access credit to invest in necessary agricultural improvements for higher yields.  Slate

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