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What Can India's Biometric ID System Do for Development? – Podcast with Aadhaar Architect Nandan Nilekani

India's biometric ID system Aadhaar has provided over a billion people with digital IDs, and changed how the country's government provides services and subsidies. But opponents of the system say that Aadhaar erodes people’s privacy. Nandan Nilekani, the chief architect of the platform, joins the CGD podcast to address these concerns, discuss the platform's progress, and share his vision for future uses of "societal platforms."

Getting to Yes on a World Bank Recapitalization

World Bank President Jim Kim is hoping the bank’s 189 shareholders will agree to increase the current capital of the bank’s “hard” window sometime in 2018. But the US wants to link any support for a recapitalization to World Bank “graduating” China—and perhaps other member countries with good access to private capital markets who don’t seem to “need” the World Bank. There are sensible arguments on both sides of this divide.

US Backs Away from Its Commitment to Extractive Industry Transparency

The US Department of the Interior announced last week that the United States would no longer seek to comply with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an international multi-stakeholder organization that aims to increase revenue transparency and accountability in natural resource extraction. The move—while disappointing—is not altogether unexpected. And sadly, it will put the United States further behind the curve when it comes to corporate transparency.

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.

How to Tackle the Refugee Reform Dilemma

Speculation about the future of the State Department’s Population, Refugees, and Migration bureau has swirled following the Trump administration’s moves to curtail refugee admissions, and a proposal to eliminate the bureau and distribute its components to the Department of Homeland Security and USAID. But I fear that diminishing or removing an empowered humanitarian voice from the State Department weakens humanitarian priorities in US policy writ large. And I believe there are ways to address legitimate concerns about the existing structure without dismantling PRM.

Why Development Finance Institutions Use Tax Havens

Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) exist to promote development by investing in the poorest, least developed countries. They often route those investments via holding companies or private equity funds domiciled in tax havens. On the face of it, that seems absurd: tax havens are widely seen as a drain on development, depriving cash-strapped governments of billions of dollars in public revenue. In a new paper I argue that whilst widespread opposition to DFIs investing via tax havens is understandable, it is misguided. Banning the use of tax havens would do more harm than good. 

Women in Fintech: Steps towards Gender Equality in a Most Unequal Sector

On October 4, CGD convened a private roundtable on women and financial technology in development alongside Monica Brand Engel, co-founding partner of Quona Capital (which invests in financial technology solutions in the developing world), and Wendy Jagerson Teleki of the International Finance Corporation. An engaged set of participants from MDBs, government, civil society, and the private sector joined Engel and Teleki in exchanging ideas on how to increase women’s representation in financial technology (or “fintech” for short) leadership and improve access to financial services for women. 

The (Sometime) Tyranny of (Somewhat) Arbitrary Income Lines

As Lant Pritchett reports, the World Bank has introduced two new poverty lines: $3.20 for lower middle income countries, and $5.50 for upper middle income countries. I’m with Lant that this is broadly a good thing. But the process by which the World Bank came up with its new poverty lines suggests it might be worth revisiting some of the pitfalls of income thresholds at the individual or national level. 

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