Across developing and advanced economies alike, low-income households need effective and affordable tools to save and borrow money, make and receive payments, and manage risk. In recent years, access to financial services has increased thanks to the expansion of digital finance and efforts of service providers and governments to reach the unbanked. As access grows, however, we must ensure that financial tools and services effectively help the poor manage and grow their money.

IPA’s Financial Inclusion Program works to improve the financial health of economically vulnerable individuals, households, and firms through research. To accomplish this, the Program produces rigorous evidence on what works to not only improve the quality and impacts of formal financial products but also to foster effective policy and enabling environments which enhance innovation, meet the needs of the poor, and protect consumers against risk.

The Financial Inclusion Program uses a range of approaches to generate evidence on these topics:

  • Randomized Controlled Trials
  • A/B Product and Marketing Testing
  • Consumer Surveys
  • Administrative Data Analysis
  • Mystery Shopping
  • Embedded Labs
  • Direct Technical Assistance and Advisory Work
  • Competitive Research Funds

With over 300 completed and ongoing randomized evaluations in 44 countries, the Financial Inclusion Program shares results to inform the work of financial service providers, policymakers, and investors.

Topics of Work

Consumer Protection Research Initiative

Using data to monitor markets and test scalable solutions to financial consumer protection issues

Digital Payments

Improving the design, delivery, and impact of digital payment solutions

Interoperable Payment Systems

Measuring the impact of pro-poor interoperable payments systems

Transaction Cost Index

A multi-country index measuring mobile money and bank account transaction costs in emerging markets


Improving savings outcomes through better product design and lessons from behavioral economics


Enhancing the impacts of microcredit on individual, household, and business outcomes

Women's Economic Empowerment

Improving economic outcomes for women through increased financial inclusion and financial decision-making power