November 30, 2017

If buying a $20 subway fare card with a debit card can result in ten unexpected overdraft fees for $358, why would you choose using a checking account at all? For many consumers, there are important benefits and a perfectly rational logic to not taking part in a formal financial system. According to the FDIC’s most recent National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Household, almost 20% of Americans are underbanked, meaning that they hold an account at an insured institution but also use financial products outside of the banking system.

There is an argument that these consumers...

Media Coverage
November 10, 2017

The Economist mentions the finding from an IPA study on mobile money in Kenya that the technology may have lifted as many as 2 percent of Kenyan households out of poverty between 2008 and 2014.

October 05, 2017

Editor's note: This post originally appeared on the African Microfinance Week site.

The mobile money revolution offers microfinance institutions and banks an opportunity to better serve their clients and reach new customer segments, especially women. New product innovations may have the potential to bring more women into the formal financial fold, but the expansion of digital financial services remains limited by women’s access to and use of mobile phones and other digital tools. Even when women do have access to mobile phones, they may not know how to use them, particularly...

ATM machine
Dario Rodriguez
September 18, 2017

Editor's note: This post appeared originally on www.inclusivebusinesshub.org

CREDIT: Dario Rodriguez

The private sector, as employers, has a major role to play in women’s economic empowerment. But not necessarily one born of social responsibility. Electronic wage payments are one of the most promising ways to give women control over the money they earn and encourage the use of formal financial services. These digital transfers have also been shown to reduce costs for businesses. But there are still some significant challenges to overcome. Is the private sector ready to take...

Media Coverage
July 21, 2017

The New York Times discusses the findings, published in Science, that small payments to Ugandan landowners can help avoid their cutting down forest, home to endangered Chimpanzees.

Media Coverage
July 17, 2017

IPA researchers Jonathan Morduch and Christopher Woodruff discuss their study results on mobile financial services and obstacles to hiring female garment workers to supervisory roles in Bangladesh.

June 22, 2017

Editor's note: This blog is a cross-post from the NextBillion blog.


Imagine you had to attend a weekly meeting to make your credit card payments. In today’s fast-moving world where we expect instant gratification and convenience at all costs, this practice might seem unthinkable. However, informal microfinance groups which, among other things, involve regular group meetings are necessary financial tools in low-income communities across the globe, allowing those outside of the formal financial sector to access loans and to save. These groups are often built into an established...

Mobile Money Fee Structures
June 06, 2017

By Kyle Holloway, Rebecca Rouse, and William Cook

Editors note: This blog is a cross-post from the CGAP blog

As mobile money products continue to expand within emerging markets, effective, pro-poor pricing for transferring small amounts of money will be important to mobile money’s success in bringing new users into the formal financial system.

Effectively targeted and appropriate pricing is critical to sustaining profitable models to deliver financial services to the poor. For customers, high fees and unclear or confusing pricing information are often cited as barriers...

May 26, 2017

Editors note: This blog is a cross-post from the SEEP blog

In 2006, the Nobel Prize Committee awarded a Nobel Peace Prize to one of the original architects of modern-day microfinance, Professor Muhammad Yunus. Professor Yunus’s microfinance model, along with similar group-liability lending models targeting women throughout the world, was based on a simple premise. Women could increase their incomes – and thereby, their own lots and the future of their families – by owning and operating their own microenterprises. Yunus and others surmised that a lack of access to capital stood...

Media Coverage
May 10, 2017

Tina Rosenberg speaks to IPA board member Tavneet Suri, about her work with William Jack and IPA in Kenya on the long-term effects of mobile money in alleviating poverty.

Press Release
May 08, 2017

New Haven, CT May 8 - Savings groups popular in rural areas of developing countries – in which people pool money for saving and borrowing – empower women, increase business investment, and provide greater access to financial services, according to a new three-country study released in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study, conducted in Ghana, Uganda, and Malawi, tracked households for two to three years, with 61 percent of participants completing a full 8-12 month savings cycle. The study found that access to village savings and loans associations (VSLAs)...

April 13, 2017

There has been a recent trend of employers, financial service providers, and governments to move towards digital payments; after all, evidence suggests that digital payments are efficient, cheaper, and reduce corruption in the system. This coupled with the global influx of new digital financial products on the market, and the ubiquity of mobile phones in the developing world, has led to a lot of excitement about digital payments being a possible on-ramp to financial inclusion.  However, we still have limited evidence to suggest that this is the case. A recent study in Afghanistan showed...

Media Coverage
March 11, 2017

Among Southeast Asian Countries, Myanmar suffers particularly from flooding, cyclones, and landslides. For low-income populations, these natural disasters can be especially devastating, leading to child malnutrition and unsanitary conditions. Intellasia reports on how IPA Myanmar is partnering with Save the Children to generate evidence on the effectiveness of government-led cash transfer programs on child nutrition and hygiene.

January 31, 2017

Editor’s note: This cross-post originally appeared on the CGAP blog

Imagine a young married woman living in a small village in rural India. If the opportunities to work in the village are limited, she may choose to supplement her household’s income by participating in India’s federal workfare program — the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) — which provides rural households up to 100 days of work at a fixed minimum wage. In this scenario, the wages she earns through this scheme are deposited into a single household account, which is held in her...

Media Coverage
January 13, 2017

The Wall Street Journal speaks with IPA affiliate and board member Taveneet Suri about her work with us studying the effects of M-PESA mobile money on Kenyan women's livelihoods.