Without an understanding of basic financial concepts, people are not well equipped to make decisions related to financial management. People who are financially literate have the ability to make informed financial choices regarding saving, investing, borrowing, and more. Financial knowledge is especially important in times where increasingly complex financial products are easily available to a wide range of the population. For example, with governments in many countries pushing to boost access to financial services, the number of people with bank accounts and access to credit products is rising rapidly. Moreover, changes in the pension landscape transfer decision-making responsibility to participants who previously relied on their employers or governments for their financial security after retirement. Financial ignorance carries significant costs. Consumers who fail to understand the concept of interest compounding spend more on transaction fees, run up bigger debts, and incur higher interest rates on loans (Lusardi and Tufano, 2015; Lusardi and de Bassa Scheresberg, 2013). They also end up borrowing more and saving less money (Stango and Zinman, 2009). Meanwhile, the potential benefits of financial literacy are manifold. People with strong financial skills do a better job planning and saving for retirement (Behrman et al., 2012; Lusardi and Mitchell, 2014). Financially savvy investors are more likely to diversify risk by spreading funds across several ventures (Abreu and Mendes, 2010). Given the many ways financial literacy affects financial behavior (Lusardi and Mitchell, 2014), it is important to understand the extent of people’s understanding of basic financial concepts as well as the degree to which financial skills fall short among groups like women and the poor. The Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services Global Financial Literacy Survey (S&P Global FinLit Survey) provides this information across a wide array of countries. It builds on early initiatives by the International Network on Financial Education (INFE) of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Bank’s Financial Capability and Household Surveys, the Financial Literacy around the World (FLAT World) project, and numerous national survey initiatives that collect information on financial literacy. The survey complements these efforts by delivering the first and most comprehensive global gauge of financial literacy to date.
A key regulatory enabler for building inclusive digital financial services is creating a special licensing window for electronic money issuers (EMIs). Because EMIs have a lower risk profile than banks, they require less regulatory oversight. A special licensing category that recognizes that their role is to store customer funds converted into e-money held in basic transaction accounts, not to extend credit based on such funds, can open the DFS market to new providers. While many countries have created nonbank e-money licenses to cater for this business, at least three countries have introduced a special banking licensing category – the payments bank license. This technical note analyzes the country context in which the payments banks licenses were crafted, and compares the advantages and disadvantages of the EMI license versus the payments bank license.
Originally posted on CGAP’s website.
How has the rural and agricultural finance sector evolved over the past three years?
The last three years have seen a rapid acceleration in technology-driven innovation, which has powered changes in existing rural finance models, enabled providers to develop new service delivery models, and facilitated the bundling of services in new ways. We have also seen a more diverse influx of service and capital providers, which has reshaped the market. But despite this progress, there remains a large, persistent gap in smallholder and agricultural SME finance.
Originally posted on the Pathway to Prosperity website.
The consumer insights research series is designed to inspire providers, regulators and other financial market facilitators to design financial services and markets that respond to the aspirations of low-to-moderate income (LMI) people and improve their financial health.
Why financial health? Financial health matters because our research shows that financial pressures prevent LMI people from having a sense of fulfilment in life. While most Malaysians now have a bank account, much more can be done to make financial services relevant for the 15 million LMI customers.
We interviewed 72 women and men across ethnicities and age groups in Kuala Lumpur, Kota Bharu and Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur.
In ‘Meet the customers’, we present six customer groups that emerged from the interviews. We explored the low usage rate of financial services, especially services enabled by technology. We hope readers will consider these customer groups when they go to the drawing board and start designing the next big digital financial product.
Originally posted on UNCDF’s website.
As digital financial services grow rapidly, so do concerns over data privacy and protection especially for poor customers who are particularly vulnerable to abuses and injury from lax data policies. CGAP set out to test how much poor people value their data privacy and whether there was a business case for financial services providers to offer better data protection. The results from six experiments in Kenya and India make the case that customers will choose products with data policy and protection features built in, and they are willing to pay for them. This opens an avenue for voluntary self-regulation in markets that do not have strong consumer protection and data policies in place.
Originally posted on CGAP’s website.
Most digital financial services users around the world live in cash-based societies, and they require a cheap and easy way to switch between the worlds of cash and digital currency. Agent networks that provide this service tend to cluster around urban and peri-urban areas and larger rural towns. However, global evidence shows that emerging agent network business models are improving agent viability in remote areas home to many of the world’s poor, financially excluded populations.
Based on an analysis of these models, this report describes six principles for effective cash-in/cash-out agent networks at the last mile and highlights examples of where they are being applied throughout the world. Digital financial services providers, policy makers, and regulators will find concrete recommendations for putting these principles into practice to advance financial inclusion.
Originally published on CGAP’s website.
Every six months, GOGLA and The World Bank Group’s Lighting Global program publish the Global Off-Grid Solar Market Report, a market intelligence series on sales and impact of off-grid solar lighting products, sold by GOGLA and Lighting Global affiliates. Since H2 2018, the report also includes sales numbers of off-grid appliances, in partnership with the Efficiency for Access Coalition.
January – June 2019 Global Off-Grid Solar Market Report
- The off-grid solar industry is growing and adapting to increased and more diverse demands from customers. Compared to the previous six months, solar home system sales with a capacity higher than 11 watt-peak, have increased by 40% to 680,000.
- More customers choose the pay-as-you-go (PAYGo) business model to make use of the benefits of off-grid solar, with PAYGo sales surpassing 1 million lighting units for the first time.
- In total, 4.11 million solar lanterns, multi-light and solar home systems were sold from January to June 2019, while 730,000 off-grid solar appliances were sold.
- The report also highlights the life-changing impact of off-grid solar, with the cumulative number of people who have benefitted from improved electricity access reaching 280 million (since July 2010).
- The impact figures are based on the sales numbers of off-grid solar lighting products only (solar lanterns, multi-light systems and solar home systems).
Originally published on GOGLA’s website.
A meta-analysis of 126 impact evaluation studies finds that financial education significantly impacts financial behavior and, to an even larger extent, financial literacy. These results also hold for the subsample of randomized experiments (RCTs). However, intervention impacts are highly heterogeneous: financial education is less effective for low-income clients as well as in low- and lower-middle income economies. Specific behaviors, such as the handling of debt, are more difficult to influence and mandatory financial education tentatively appears to be less effective. Thus, intervention success depends crucially on increasing education intensity and offering financial education at a “teachable moment.”
Originally posted on World Bank’s website.
Insurance technology, better known as Insurtech, is a rapidly growing industry that is beginning to disrupt traditional insurance provision in advanced and emerging economies alike, and is creating opportunities and challenges for incumbents, start-ups, and investors. The opportunity offered by insurtech is particularly significant in emerging markets, where a large “protection gap” exists due to low insurance penetration. This has major development implications due to the fact that economic growth and insurance penetration are closely intertwined. Technology and new business models are necessary to close the protection gap in these markets, and companies will need to be able to innovate—either internally, by partnerships, or by investing—to seize the opportunity.
In many emerging economies, digital financial services markets are limited to one or two major providers, reducing innovation, customer choice and potentially facilitating monopolistic or cartelistic behavior. Why are DFS markets prone to concentration? Is this a problem? In this primer, CGAP applies a framework to help answer these questions and demonstrate how regulation can have a substantial impact on competitive dynamics in the DFS marketplace. The paper also proposes regulatory levers that policy makers can use to promote more competition. Looking ahead, a competitive landscape becomes especially important given the rising importance of customer data and the entry of large, multinational technology companies into DFS markets.
The argument for robust and fair competition is persuasive. Competition serves customers by promoting innovation and efficiencies, which lead to lower prices, greater choice, better quality services and improved products. At a national level, competition can curb excessive concentration of economic power and potentially reduce operational risks from service outages. From a financial inclusion perspective, more competition also increases the likelihood that DFS will reach low-income people currently excluded or poorly served by the financial sector.
Originally posted on CGAP’s website.