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Constantine Manda, Philip Roessler, Francis Annan, Xavier Giné, Mark Walsh, Hsin-Tien (Tiffany) Tsai, Russell Toth
January 02, 2023

The Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) Tanzania team was honored to host a field visit to Dar es Salaam’s Makumbusho Market during a recent visit to Tanzania by H.M. Queen Máxima of the Netherlands in her capacity as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA). The goal of UNSGSA Queen Máxima’s visit was to better understand how digital payments are being used in Tanzania, the costs associated with them, and their potential to help small businesses and other users.

In her role as UNSGSA, Queen Máxima spoke with entrepreneurs and...

Media Coverage
December 05, 2022

Business Hallmark covers an IPA report measuring financial inclusion in Nigeria which found that the bank charges and the prohibitively high costs of financial products are excluding the consumers most in need of access.

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Philip Roessler, Mark Walsh
November 17, 2022

In 2021, the World Bank Findex survey found a large gap between the use of digital retail payments in high-income countries and low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). This gap cannot be completely explained by differences in access to digital financial tools across countries. For example, Tanzania (like other East African economies) outpaces many high-income countries in terms of its citizens' use of mobile money to send and receive domestic remittances. But when it comes to retail payments, most Tanzanians keep their phones in their pockets and pull-out cash instead—only 5% of...

Loan Modification Kenya.png
October 13, 2022

In Kenya, like many economies, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted lending activities, especially for microfinance institutions (MFIs). Public health restrictions in the country substantially affected economic activities, which resulted in job losses, reduced business incomes, and in some cases, the shutting down of businesses. Following their high reliance on steady repayments from microloans to cover their costs, which fell in the wake of the pandemic, MFIs were forced to institute coping mechanisms to ensure business continuity. MFI loan repayment data from our research shows that...

August 08, 2022


People often struggle to follow through on things they want to accomplish. When we try to do something like quit smoking, save money, or exercise, many of us have short-term desires that conflict with our long-term goals. To address this, economists have designed and evaluated a wide range of commitment devices. Commitment devices are strategies that allow people to voluntarily “lock themselves in” to a course of action in the future that they might otherwise have trouble following through on. But when designing studies around human failures and upping the stakes,...

Volume of chatbots
July 18, 2022

Getting a refund can be the stuff of nightmares—long wait times, hidden fine print exceptions you did not read, or multiple calls to follow-up. But the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’s (BSP)'s new chatbot, “BOB” (BSP Online Buddy), could change this for consumers in the Philippines.

BOB lets consumers file complaints against BSP-supervised financial institutions (BSFIs) through simple chat messages. A report from Smart Parenting tells the story of one consumer named Kitty who got frustrated waiting on a refund from her bank that never came until she learned about...

July 12, 2022

While shopping online recently, have you been asked if you would like to pay for the item later instead of right now? This offer usually is not from the company selling you a new pair of shoes, but from a third-party Buy Now, Pay Later provider (BNPLs). BNPLs allow you to make purchases immediately and pay off the cost in installments. Think of auto financing, but instead of a car, it’s a pair of Nikes, and instead of paying off over years, you pay off in weeks. 


BNPLs have grown fast in recent years: in the US, one study found that 43 percent of the adult...

Media Coverage
June 30, 2022

Business Day reports on a new IPA report finding high fees and lack of transparency may erode Nigerian consumers' trust in digital financial services.

Media Coverage
June 06, 2022

Soko Directory reports on some of the hazards faced by digital finance customers in Kenya as found by an IPA survey.

How to Identify Fraud Text Messages
June 02, 2022

By Elif Kubilay, Eva Raiber, and Lisa Spantig

“Click the link to claim your prize!”
“Please call to update your account information today or it will be closed.”
“Get an instant loan of $100 by calling this number.”

These types of fake text messages are inescapable if you own a phone. Reading the messages right now, they may seem like obvious fakes, but for some consumers, scam identification on their phones is not as easy as it seems. Scammers often pose as legitimate financial providers to trick customers into sending money or personal...

Media Coverage
May 30, 2022

Nigeria’s The Nation reports on findings from an IPA survey on the many barriers faced by Nigerians trying to use digital financial services, including lack of transparency and high costs, and the new partnership between IPA and the Central Bank of Nigeria to address them. You can read more about the research findings in this blog post.

Erin M. Kelley, John Quattrochi
May 26, 2022

By Erin Kelley, Leslie Roberts, Emily Sloane, John Quattrochi, and Pieter Ventevogel

There are currently 244 million people worldwide affected by humanitarian crises, including 84 million who have been forcibly displaced. The displacement crisis in countries bordering Ukraine is a reminder of the many ongoing displacement crises which also need the world's urgent attention. To focus on solutions, we look back on a lively discussion and debate between a group of researchers and practitioners discussing a straightforward one-time program for displaced and vulnerable people that had...

Media Coverage
April 28, 2022

IPA founder Dean Karlan, with researcher Michael Luca, writes in the Harvard Business Review about how not to be led astray in reasoning by correlations. In their practical guide, they draw on IPA's work evaluating credit building loans in the U.S., along with other studies, to show why causal impact is critical to assess. 

April 13, 2022


Imagine you find yourself in need of a quick loan but you are over 15 kilometers away from the closest bank branch, without access to the right amount of collateral, and have no credit history. In many low-income markets, unbanked or underbanked individuals are turning to mobile applications which promise instant access to unsecured personal loans. While these apps have made accessing credit fast and easy, they have also exposed consumers to new risks. Because these apps go largely unregulated, predatory fees and rates, abusive debt collection practices, and misuse of...

Media Coverage
April 01, 2022

The Banker reports on growing efforts to address barriers keeping many across Asia from owning bank accounts and gaining financial literacy. The article quotes Kate Glynn-Broderick, former Associate Director of IPA's Financial Inclusion Program: “High fees can eat into a low income. In some cases, people do not understand how fees are being applied. This can be damaging for women, who often make small, frequent deposits compared with men who make larger, less frequent payments.”