Week of February 28, 2014

  • Jake Kendall and Rodger Voorhies of the Gates Foundation discuss the potential impact of mobile phones on poverty reduction in the developing world, with a specific focus on their uses for increasing financial inclusion and providing financial services.
  • Each year, Mobile Money for the Unbanked’s State of the Industry report contains key findings and insights on the growth of the sector. This year, for the first time, the scope of the report has been extended to include not only mobile money, but also mobile insurance, mobile credit and mobile savings. Key findings show a rapid growth in mobile money industry and increased competition among providers. (Watch for further insights from the report in an upcoming blog post.)
  • Tigo, a subsidiary of the international telecommunications and media company Millicom, launched the first mobile-to-mobile remittance service with currency conversion for transfers between Tanzania and Rwanda. Following Orange’s announcement of a similar product last July in West Africa, the two providers show a growing interest in the South-South remittance market.
  • In more remittance news, Pew Research released an interactive map that shows 2012 remittance inflows and outflows for countries around the world.
  • The Federal Reserve Bank of New York released its Household Debt and Credit Report for the fourth quarter of 2013. This report provides a quarterly snapshot of household trends in borrowing and indebtedness, including data about mortgages, student loans, credit cards, auto loans and delinquencies. Outstanding household debt increased $241 billion from the previous quarter, the largest quarter over quarter increase since the third quarter of 2007.
  • Lisa Servon continues her “series” on financial services for lower-income households with a look at  the demand side of the payday loan industry, investigating the reasons why low-income borrowers are willing to pay high fees for small dollar credit products.
  • According to data from the Federal Reserve, less than 1% of all federally chartered banks are owned by African-Americans.
  • The New York Times featured an opinion piece on the potential for Obamacare to spur job creation through entrepreneurship.
  • PBS Newshour highlighted the work of Hunger Free Colorado, a nonprofit that recently sponsored a participatory photography project aimed at chronicling what it’s like to be hungry in America.
  • Freedom from Hunger CEO Steve Hollingsworth details the organization’s perspective on “what we know” about microfinance and where the industry should focus now  in a new blog post on NextBillion.net.   

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