Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Publications

 

November 7, 2016

Banking the Unbanked: Evidence from Three Countries - Working Paper 440

We experimentally test the impact of expanding access to basic bank accounts in Uganda, Malawi, and Chile. Over two years, 17 percent, 10 percent, and 3 percent of treatment individuals made five or more deposits, respectively. Average monthly deposits for them were at the 79th, 91st, and 96th percentiles of baseline savings. Survey data show no clearly discernible intention-to-treat effects on savings or any downstream outcomes. This suggests that policies merely focused on expanding access to basic accounts are unlikely to improve welfare noticeably since impacts, even if present, are likely small and diverse.

October 20, 2016

Financial Inclusion in Latin America: Facts and Obstacles - Working Paper 439

In spite of recent progress in the usage of alternative financial services by adult populations, Latin America’s financial inclusion gaps have not reduced, relatively to comparable countries, and, in some cases, have even increased during the period 2011-2014. Institutional weaknesses play the most salient role through direct and indirect effects. Lack of enforcement of the rule of law directly reduces depositors’ incentives to entrust their funds to formal financial institutions. Indirectly, low institutional quality reinforces the adverse effects of insufficient bank competition on financial inclusion.

September 6, 2016

Promoting Women’s Economic Empowerment through US Foreign and Development Policy

Women’s economic empowerment is increasingly recognized as critical to achieving development outcomes around the world. Informed by a roundtable discussion at the Center for Global Development (CGD) and additional suggestions from CGD researchers, this four-point memo aims to issue practical proposals for the next US administration, particularly aimed at economically empowering women and girls worldwide, as a building block toward the full realization of broader gender equality and women’s agency and empowerment. The recommendations build on those in CGD’s The White House and the World briefing book, as well as the CGD policy memo “A US Law or Executive Order to Combat Gender Apartheid in Discriminatory Countries” and ongoing work at CGD focused on women’s financial inclusion.

February 25, 2016

Balancing Financial Integrity with Financial Inclusion: The Risk-Based Approach to “Know Your Customer”

Recognizing the importance of financial inclusion as a policy objective, regulators have endorsed the use of a risk-based approach (RBA) towards know-your-customer (KYC) requirements aimed at strengthening financial integrity.  This paper considers applications of the RBA in domestic banking, mobile money and international financial transactions against the features of a rigorous RBA where both the rigor and level of due diligence and the structure and balance of incentives should be proportional to the balance of risks, including that of exclusion. Recommendations include greater attention to national identification systems and to encourage the use of digital technology to shift from cash-cash wire transfers to more transparent account-account transactions between identified holders.

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January 19, 2016

Shine a Light on the Gaps

If Africa’s smallholder farmers are going to lift themselves out of poverty, they need access to formal financial services instead of the unstable, inflexible, informal arrangements that they currently rely on and that keep them poor. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Janeen Madan review the ways in which digital technology is changing how financial services are delivered and made affordable. With the right investments and policies, farmers will be able to access credit, savings accounts, insurance, payment platforms, and other financial products that allow them to invest in their livelihoods without being exposed to exploitation or untenable risks.