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New CGD Study Group Aims to Shed Light on Technological Change and Paths to Development

Ongoing advances in AI, automation, and information and communications technologies (ICTs) may be fundamentally changing traditional paths to development. Academics, policymakers, and researchers in high-income countries have issued numerous reports and recommendations on the implications for jobs, education, and economic opportunities. But far less has been done to assess the effects on the developing world and global comparative advantage.

A seamstress in Accra, Ghana. Photo by Jonathan Torgovnik/Getty Images/imagesofempowerment.com

Empowering Women, Changing Mindsets: A Conversation on Technology and Financial Training

Eight years and millions of mobile financial transactions later, we came together again at a private CGD roundtable in London to discuss the potential of mobile banking and savings for women’s economic empowerment. We were pleased to hear the richness of research evidence and interventions on women’s financial inclusion that have emerged over the past decade. What follows are some takeaways from our deliberations, informed by this research and practice.

A biometric data collection center in Salt lake, Kolkata. Photo by Biswarup Ganguly.

Does Digital ID Improve Governance? Answers—and Questions—from the State of Aadhaar Report

India’s digital ID system has become ubiquitous and is rapidly being incorporated into service delivery. With more heat than light so far in the Aadhaar debate, the State of Aadhaar report is a major step forward in understanding the world’s largest ongoing transition to digital governance, one that is being watched closely by many other countries.

The Next Billion Customers: Is Technology the Key to Closing the Global Gap in Financial Services?

Over 1.7 billion adults worldwide remain unbanked, but two-thirds of them own a mobile phone that could easily connect them to the financial services they need. Governments could leverage digital payments to bring wages, pensions, and services directly to their beneficiaries. Private sector banks could provide digital accounts, loans, and savings devices to a new, previously unreached market. And these unbanked adults could have safe and secure methods to save, invest, and transfer money.

Are Biometric ID Systems Good for Women?

Can biometric IDs encourage women’s financial inclusion and economic and social empowerment? In principle, the answer should be yes. But the potential impact is limited by a range of other impediments that limit women’s participation.

Can Robots Save Banks? RegTech’s Potential to Solve De-Risking

Policies put in place to counter financial crimes have unfortunately had a chilling effect on banks’ willingness to do business in markets perceived to be risky—due in part to the high price of compliance. Even as changes are being made to address this problem, financial institutions are developing solutions in the form of new cutting-edge technologies to help them comply better and faster with anti-money laundering regulations.

The Two Faces of Middle East Economies

Like the mythical Roman god Janus, there are two faces to most of the economies of the MENA region. We can call them the young and the old. And that the choice for MENA governments to make is not which face of Janus to support, but rather how to ensure that both can co-exist and prosper.  

Initial Coin Offering (ICO) Mania and Its Implications for Technology-Led Social Enterprise

One of the bubblier aspects of the recent enthusiasm for all things blockchain has been the rise in popularity of initial coin offerings (ICOs), also known as token sales. By design, the acronym calls to mind the more traditional fundraising model of initial public offerings (IPOs), in which companies sell equity stakes to investors. With ICOs however, companies use blockchain technology to issue digital assets (usually referred to as tokens or coins) to investors rather than equity stakes. Another key difference—at least for the time being—is that ICOs are virtually unregulated. In fact, many of the advantages ICOs have over more traditional fundraising platforms derive from their unregulated status.

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