Week of February 18, 2014

This week’s New and Noteworthy includes results of an RCT on behavioral economics and savings, an in-depth look at legal procedures for debt collection, and a review of new cash transfer research in sub-Saharan Africa.

  • A new report from Dean Karlan of Innovations for Poverty Action (and an FAI co-founder) discusses the role of nonprofit organizations in fostering financial inclusion. Karlan highlights innovations in microfinance delivery, draws attention to financially underserved groups, and provides recommendations for building client trust.
  • M-Pesa is pushing toward international transfers. Safaricom seems to be linking up with Skrill, a US-based remittances/online payment company, to allow people to send money directly to M-Pesa accounts from abroad. 
  • According to the Federal Reserve, 40 percent of people in the prime working years of 25 to 64 have no current pension or retirement plan. Floyd Norris reviews the history of pensions and the future retirement options for the generation President Obama hopes to target with his new “MyRA” initiative.
  • On April 8th, Microsoft plans to end support for Windows XP, leaving about 95 percent of US-based ATMs open to security and compliance risks.
  • Grameen Foundation and ideas42 report findings from a behavioral design project on improving savings outcomes for clients of CARD Bank in the Philippines. When researchers linked a focus on saving through goal-setting and planning at the point of account opening, they saw a positive effect on savings balances over time.
  • This American Banker article exposes the common practice of “rocket dockets,” or unsupervised debt resolution conferences that exist in a legal gray area. They are being targeted by the CFPB since the proceedings may give debt collectors unfair advantages in court.
  • Markus Goldstein evaluates recent research on cash transfer programs in sub-Saharan Africa and their impact on productive activities such as agriculture and small businesses for the World Bank blog. 
  • Last year, the Reserve Bank of India unveiled new licenses that allow various financial institutions to act as banks. The New Yorker looks at the impact of this on financial inclusion, the microfinance sector, and the unmet demand of banking services for the rural poor.

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