Week of October 4, 2013

This week’s New and Noteworthy includes thoughts on both the transformative potential of digital banking as well as a defense of preventing a cashless economy. Also in our highlights are innovative uses for prepaid debit cards and research using mobile phone minutes as a proxy for income inequality.

  • Earlier this week the Affordable Care Act officially went into effect. However, millions of uninsured Americans will still be left out of expanded coverage.
  • As mobile banking becomes more ubiquitous and some predict cash’s demise, Oliver Burkeman reminds us that the “frictionless” cashless economy is not necessarily in our best interests. 
  • As Myanmar emerges from decades-long conflict, it’s reopening its borders to foreign banks. The Economist explores how the nascent mobile and financial sectors have the “leap-frogging” potential to transform the financial services sector.
  • FAI affiliate Ignacio Mas provides a deep dive into retail payments in the developing world and the challenges in bringing services to scale.
  • The Atlantic highlighted a new study from Gutierrez, et al. that uses mobile phone communications and airtime credit purchases to map income inequality in Côte d'Ivoire.
  • The talking points around prepaid debit cards usually involve mention of their high fees or alternatives to formal bank accounts. But Money Talk News takes a more positive spin offering seven innovative and practical uses for the products.
  • Nancy Lee, General Manager of the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) at the Inter-American Development Bank Group, wrote the first in CGAP’s new blog series on gender and the role of finance. Lee’s insights focus on women entrepreneurs and their financial needs, which extend well beyond credit.

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