Financial Inclusion in Action

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Why Is the Chicken Afraid to Cross the Road?

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In midtown Manhattan, native New Yorkers and veteran commuters like to play a game called “chicken” with oncoming traffic, especially at rush hour. They step off the pavement as the light is turning red, or simply because it’s been red for an unacceptable waiting period, and stride fearlessly into the car lanes. They make no… Continue reading

What If Six Billion People Had Smartphones?

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Six billion is close to the number of current mobile subscribers around the world, according to the ITU (International Telecommunications Union). Since 26% of the 7 billion total are children, that means most adults, rich and poor, now have access to a mobile device. Let’s consider what this might mean with regard to smartphones:  By… Continue reading

Understanding Complex Human Financial Behaviour: Alternative Approaches

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As we discussed in our earlier blog post, MetaMon project was an ambitious one. In the project we aspired to decipher the inherent thinking process that drives financial decision making of the poor. In MicroSave’s earlier research around financial lives, we realised that conversations about money often turn philosophical. This is because they revolve around… Continue reading

Can India Achieve Financial Inclusion Without the Mobile Network Operators?

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India is attempting to create financial inclusion using direct benefit transfers as the flywheel that turns the engine of an electronic payment system, the creating volumes and interoperability necessary for real financial inclusion. Currently volumes at rural agents are simply not adequate – resulting in very low commissions and debilitating levels of agent churn. Furthermore,… Continue reading

Mobile Money: Rosy Vs Real

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Most people reading this blog already understand that the headlines trumpeting the advantages and steady gains in moving money around via mobile phones, and even edging out credit/debit cards (The Wall Street Journal , the BBC and Marketing  are recent examples), refer to the projected 894 million  mobile-banking users of smart phones and tablets—not the… Continue reading

Paint by Numbers: Profiles of Bank Agents in India

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India’s financial inclusion efforts remain in a difficult transition period. And agents, or business correspondents, as they are known here, are not the all-purpose, “last link” solution everyone had imagined between banks and low-income, remote or migrant customers. Despite the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI’s) commendable efforts to move financial inclusion aggressively forward (this year's… Continue reading

Direct Benefits—All Eyes on India

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As always, India is the biggest, the most problematic, with the greatest potential for success—or failure. There are other cash transfer programmes for pensions, education, health, and food benefits for low-income households in Brazil, Turkey, South Africa, and next door in Bangladesh. Conditional Cash Transfers (CCT) where women, not men, receive the money if they fulfil… Continue reading

Financial Inclusion Just Became More Inclusive…Maybe

On 22 February, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced that companies from any business sector will be allowed to seek a banking license. A strong part of the rationale behind this controversial and surprising move from India’s generally conservative central bank and regulator is the need to bring more banking services, more efficiently and… Continue reading