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CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

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.

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.

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.  

Questioning the Role of Bitcoin for Financial Inclusion

As the price of bitcoin continues its dizzying rise—the currency briefly surpassed $19,000 yesterday—the already passionate debate about its role in the global economy has become even more heated. Over the last two months, prominent economists and financiers, including Citi CEO Jamie Dimon, former IMF Chief Economist Kenneth Rogoff, and former Chair of the US Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke have all voiced skepticism about the currency, triggering a loud response from the crypto community.  

A stack of US dollars on a keyboard

Can Fintech Improve Financial Inclusion? Adequate Regulation Can Help

The difficulties encountered by emerging markets’ regulators in balancing socially desirable innovations and possible risks are accountable for the slow development of fintech regulations in these economies. To address these problems, the framework developed in CGD’s report, Financial Regulations for Improving Financial Inclusion can support regulators’ efforts. This approach, based on three main principles, encourages the private sector to successfully adopt and adapt digital finance solutions for low-income populations while circumventing risks.

Six Months out from Demonetization: Is Digital Finance in India’s Future?

Today, June 30, marks six months from the day Indians had to change their old 500 and 1000 rupee notes following the “demonetization shock” announced by the government. The turmoil in the economy has since calmed to a large extent. In the past six months, the government also launched a concerted effort to wean Indians away from cash as the preferred method of payment for transactions.

Global Efforts to Combat Financial Exclusion Forge Ahead

In November 2015, CGD published a report on the unintended consequences of anti-money laundering policies for poor countries, focusing on three groups: migrant workers who send remittances to their families, vulnerable people who are displaced by conflict or natural disasters and are in need of foreign assistance, and businesses that rely on cross-border trade. Since then, the international community has made several efforts to address the problem of financial exclusion created in part by these policies. 

Blockchain Tech Adoption Makes Progress, But Is Still No Magic Bullet for Global Financial Inclusion

Distributed ledger technology, like Bitcoin’s blockchain, has the potential to transform cross-border payments, boost financial inclusion, and lessen the unintended consequences of anti-money laundering enforcement. Ripple, a fintech company using distributed ledger technology, made headlines recently, as did the appearance of a new cryptocurrency, Zcash. If you’ve gotten swept up in the enthusiasm around emerging financial technologies (fintech), you may think that the creaking system of international transfers in fiat currencies, and the problems of global financial exclusion associated with it, will soon come to an end. However, as we’ve said before, these innovations may not have as much of an impact as you expect.

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