Week of July 15, 2013

We have a special bonus edition of New & Noteworthy this week with a new report on the stats of global financial inclusion, various perspectives on the challenges of mobile money adoption, and an ongoing debate on a possible repayment crisis in Tamil Nadu.

  • This week CGAP released its Financial Access 2012 report, a comprehensive view of access to financial services and financial inclusion around the world based on eight years of data from the IMF’s Financial Access Survey (FAS).
  • Challenges in mobile banking and payments was definitely a hot topic this week:
    • As new products like Square Wallet make payments incredibly convenient and practically invisible, Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton question the value on spending habits and happiness levels;
    • Ignacio Mas explores the demand and supply factors into why the progress of mobile money has not been a smooth one for CGAP (and continues the conversation in the blog comments.);
    • Felix Salmon asserts his skepticism that mobile payments will replace credit cards in the US;
    • And new research highlights some of the hidden costs and social meaning of mobile payments  for the poor in Kenya.
  • Fast Company posted some fascinating infographics displaying the world’s airports as a measure of global inequality.
  • The Family Budget Calculator from the Economic Policy Institute measures the income a family in the US needs in order to attain a secure yet modest living standard by estimating community-specific expenses. You can see what a city or town requires but in all cases, families need more than twice the income of the federal poverty line to make ends meet.
  • Recently on the FAI Blog, Daniel Rozas discussed avoiding a potential repayment crisis in Chiapas, Mexico. At the same time, a similar debate is occurring regarding repayment issues in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu:
  • In a compelling blog post for CGAP, Kim Wilson imagines a global financial ecosystem that combines the “transparency, safety, convenience, reliability, fair pricing, and privacy” of formal banking institutions without the expenses of that system. She asserts that technology could be harnessed to make this vision a reality.
  • CRISIL of India released the results of its Inclusix project, a “comprehensive index for measuring the progress of financial inclusion in the country, down to the district-level.” Data collected between 2009-2011show an under-penetration of formal banking across India and an overall country score of40 on a scale of 100.
  • recent study from the Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness highlights a neglected part of the gentrification debate - why displacement of residents can lead to increased homelessness. The research concludes that low-income families priced out of trendy neighborhoods create intense competition in economically depressed areas. As The New York Times points out, “in a scenario like this one…the poor are not simply competing with wealthier newcomers for limited housing; the poor are competing with one another.”
  • As companies move away from paper paychecks and direct deposit, hourly workers are feeling the pinch of fees from prepaid cards, according to the The New York Times. In some instances, workers end up making less than minimum wage after these fees are taken into account.
  • Legislators and policy makers often try to promote “good” behavior through economic or other incentives but Evan Selinger explores when encouraging certain behavior becomes coercive in "When Nudge Comes to Shove."

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