Week of February 7, 2014

In this week’s New and Noteworthy, we highlight responses to the USPS’ white paper on providing financial services, the impact of small dollar fees on the US health care system, and a new publication projecting the potential for digital payment markets in Africa.

  • A new McKinsey & Co. publication shows the gap between current levels of payment digitization and what levels in other African countries would look like if they matched Kenya. The report demonstrates that there certainly is a business case for supplying digital payment services if demand puzzles can be solved.
  • Last year on our blog Dan Rozas pointed out the risk of a substantial repayment crisis in Chiapas, Mexico. Hugh Sinclair has a new post laying out the case that Peru, and MiBanco in particular, is at high risk of a repayment crisis.
  • Now that the Affordable Care Act is in full swing, so is the Innovation Center, a research outfit funded by ACA to discover how to most effectively deliver health care. However, many researchers say the Innovation Center is missing out on key opportunities for deeper insights into health care policy by conducting demonstration projects and not RCTs.
  • In a post for NextBillion, FAI affiliate Ignacio Mas outlines three types of “money stories” people tell (or in other words, ways of mental accounting) and how providers can translate those stories into financial products that serve the needs of the poor.
  • Danielle Ofri, a physician and an associate professor of medicine at NYU, authors an opinion piece for The New York Times that discusses the impact of small dollar fees on low-income patients’ health. She asserts that it is “literally the pocket money, that often has the most profound and palpable effect on the concrete currency of health.”
  • Last week’s white paper from the USPS Inspector General exploring how the U.S. Postal Service could offer non-bank financial services spurred a number of interesting responses (many thinking the plan doesn’t go far enough), including articles from Adam Levitin for American Banker, Felix Salmon at Reuters, and David Dayden for The New Republic.
  • Is there value in microinsurance? Drawing on several years of original research as well as other evidence from the field, the MicroInsurance Centre’s MILK Project and the ILO’s Microinsurance Innovation Facility provide concrete insights into how, when, in what ways, and to what extent clients receive value from microinsurance in a new brief.
  • Transport for London announced plans to go completely cashless on its fare systems for central London buses, beginning this summer.
  • Last year, Rebecca Ackerman, a Code for America Fellow working with the San Francisco Human Services Agency, signed up for food stamps to view enrollment from the client’s perspective as part of a larger project to improve the program's retention. The Atlantic profiles her experience and the results of the project, which include an interactive timeline of over 20 letters she received in her seven months of benefits.

Return to the Weekly faiV