Market vendor in Uganda receiving a mobile money payment
Will Boase
April 05, 2016

Mobile money and digital payments have opened the door to a new generation of products that have lowered costs and made serving unbanked and underbanked consumers a promising business proposition. But in spite of continuous innovations and a steady growth in digital financial services, take-up of these products remains low and usage rates are often disappointing. Many financial service providers are struggling to make these digital products live up to their full potential for businesses and consumers. 

At Innovations for Poverty Action, we are working to build partnerships between...

March 30, 2016

The Financial Inclusion Program at Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) invites Expressions of Interest (EOI) from teams of researchers and financial service providers to conduct rigorous research on financial product innovations for low income households in developing countries. 

This call for Expressions of Interest (EOIs) marks the second competitive funding round of a four-year, $4.1 million investment in project funding to support randomized evaluations in the following areas:

Designing financial and non-financial services linked to digital finance channels, including...
Media Coverage
March 16, 2016

IPA founder Dean Karlan writes in International Banker magazine about the future of finance for the unbanked and underbanked of the world. Using insights from IPA and other research, he discusses how behavioral research can help with innovative product design.

Press Release
February 09, 2016

February 9, 2016 (NEW HAVEN, CT) --- Innovations for Poverty Action announced today the beginning of a partnership with JPMorgan Chase & Co. to translate research around the world into practical insights for financial service providers engaged with underserved consumers in the U.S. and Europe. This work will be conducted in close partnership with MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL).

“We are thrilled to announce this new partnership with JPMorgan Chase & Co.,” said Beniamino Savonitto, Director of the Financial Inclusion Program at IPA. “This grant offers us a...

Media Coverage
February 02, 2016

IPA's executive director Annie Duflo and founder Dean Karlan write in the New York Times Sunday Review section about "What Data Can Do to Fight Poverty." They use examples from Uganda and Zambia to talk about how sometimes data leads us to different conclusions than our intuitions might.

Media Coverage
December 22, 2015

IPA founder and president Dean Karlan, writing on the Council on Foreign Relations blog, examines what we've learned from the Millenium Development Goals, and what it means for the process of the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Media Coverage
December 10, 2015

Pacific Standard Magazine, in a piece about the power of behavioral research to spur development, cited their top five papers in the area. Four of them were IPA studies: Helping farmers in Malawi save, SMS reminders for savings in three countries, small incentives for immunizations, and HIV prevention through improving information in Kenya.

Media Coverage
December 09, 2015

Nate Silver’s data journalism site, FiveThirtyEight, used our results to point out why to trust data over fundraising brochures, with research on microloans led by IPA and our colleagues. Despite what the fundraisers suggest:

None of the six studies found statistically significant increases in household income or spending. Four of the six found no change in food consumption; one found a modest increase and the sixth found a significant decrease.

The use of "nudging" for a behavioral economics study in Afghanistan.
Jan Chipchase
Michael Callen, Joshua Blumenstock, Tarek Ghani
December 08, 2015

Perhaps the most cited triumph of behavioral economics – that marriage of economics and psychology that has put terms such as “nudge” and “fast versus slow thinking” into the popular lexicon – is the automatic opt-in. For example, more people donate organs if they are automatically put on the organ donor list. And far more people contribute to retirement accounts when they are automatically enrolled by their employer. The power of the default option is part of why 401(k) plans are so popular in the United States. Savings programs that automatically enroll people by default, or that define...

FIP banner 4.jpg
Tugela Rid
November 05, 2015

Digital technology is rapidly changing the way we design and offer financial products. Consumers who were unreachable by brick-and-mortar banks can now access formal financial services quickly and cheaply through their mobile phones or prepaid cards. But while digital financial services (DFS) offer a multitude of benefits for the poor, they are not without their own set of challenges.

Experts from over 30 countries recently met in Antalya, Turkey for Responsible Finance Forum VI (RFF VI) to discuss these challenges and devise a set of actions to address them. Co-organized by...

Media Coverage
November 02, 2015

A rigorous set of studies published in January has helped to more firmly establish microcredit’s limitations. A team of leading microfinance academics from Yale, Dartmouth, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology compared the gains in living standards among borrowers in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ethiopia, India, Mexico, Mongolia, and Morocco with those of non-borrowers, measuring household consumption and income. The researchers concluded that, in all six countries, microcredit’s benefits were moderate, at best, and not transformational.

Dean Karlan
October 13, 2015


On Friday IPA founder and Yale economist Dean Karlan testified in front of a subcommittee of the US House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services, alongside Martin Ravallion of Georgetown University,  Patrick Chovanec of the Silvercrest Asset Management Group, and Scott Morris, Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Development. The hearing was about the future of multilateral investment banks (organizations such as the World Bank), but touched on many issues in how governments and large donors view development.

In his testimony (PDF of the expanded writtern...
Press Release
September 17, 2015

The Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion (CFI) today announced the upcoming launch of Financial Inclusion 2020 (FI2020) Week, taking place from November 2-6, 2015. During the week, stakeholders from across the globe will organize and participate in conversations and events to explore the most important steps for achieving financial inclusion – access to financial services for low-income people – by 2020.

Press Release
September 09, 2015

ANTALYA, Turkey, September 9, 2015: How are phones and cards changing the ways the global poor access and manage their money, and what should governments and financial institutions do to ensure innovative products and services meet the need of lowincome customers? These and related topics were the subject of intense discussion and debate by leading global experts at a G20-backed event this week in Antalya, Turkey, one of the countries being transformed by digital innovation.

The sixth annual Responsible Finance Forum, held on September 7-9, convened more than 130 senior financial...

Deba Prasad Roy
September 02, 2015

By Jamie Zimmerman   Editor's note, this is a cross posting by CGAP, which originally appeared on their blog. IPA, CGAP and others will be partnering to address these issues in the upcoming Responsible Finance Forum.  

"A massive data breach at All-In-Pay, a digital payments provider has resulted in $15 billion loss of customer funds: government inquiry forthcoming."

  This is the hypothetical news headline most feared by participants at CGAP’s June 30th event, which released Doing Digital Finance Right, a focus note which explores how and why low-income customers of digital financial...