Mobile financial services have become the main channel of financial inclusion, especially in low-income countries. However, consumer protection failures in the sector remain common. In Uganda, researchers partnered with the Uganda Communications Commission to conduct a phone-based survey among 1,000 users of mobile financial services to inquire about their experiences.

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The transaction costs associated with opening, maintaining, and withdrawing funds may be a barrier to using formal savings accounts for low-income individuals. In partnership with Family Bank of Kenya, researchers evaluated the impact of providing free ATM card to couples on savings account use.

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Remittances are one of the largest sources of financial flows to low- and middle-income countries, and researchers and decision-makers are interested in ways to increase their development impact. One promising approach is enabling migrants to label the remittances that they send home for a specific purpose, such as education or business activities.

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As financial services digitize, more consumers are bringing their experiences online as well, using social media channels like Facebook and Twitter to raise concerns and issues with specific products or services. Social media data could shed new light into the issues that affect digital consumers and how providers are responding to these complaints.

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Repeated borrowing from moneylenders at high interest rates is common across many low-income communities. Researchers evaluated whether offering market vendors cash grants to pay off existing debt and financial training influenced future borrowing behavior. While market vendors were less likely to borrow and borrowed in smaller amounts in the short-term, most returned to debt within six weeks.

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Digital credit in Kenya has become a tool for households and small businesses to manage their day-to-day expenses, but concerns have been raised regarding rising household debt levels and defaults.  In this project, IPA will collaborate with the Digital Lenders Association of Kenya (DLAK) to analyze credit data with a new information sharing system and measure the system’s effects on issues such as multiple lending, loan screening, and defaults.

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The global spread of COVID-19 and associated shelter-in-place orders have increased economic stress and intimate partner violence (IPV).[1] To tackle this challenge, researchers have partnered in Colombia with IPA, Fundación Capital and Comfama to evaluate the impact of an interactive WhatsApp

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Cash assistance in emergency settings has been shown to assist recipients in mitigating resulting economic fallout, for example through increased food security. The VAT Compensation, a new unconditional cash transfer in Colombia, will assist 1 million low-income households in navigating the economic crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Saving for the future tends to be particularly challenging in developing country contexts, where many people lack access to formal saving tools. Researchers partnered with a tea company in Malawi to study the effects of a savings product that allowed workers to defer payment of a part of their wages. The deferred wages program was generally popular and increased savings; in the longer run, it helped workers improve their houses.

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People often report wanting to save more money than they actually do, and rigorous evidence has shown that simple reminders to save can be effective at helping people save more. Researchers working with IPA carried out evaluations in Ghana, Peru, the Philippines, and the Dominican Republic to build the evidence base about text-message reminders to save. In Ghana, the research team worked with Fidelity Bank to evaluate the impact of behaviorally targeted text messages on savings behavior.

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People often report wanting to save more money than they actually do, and rigorous evidence has shown that simple reminders to save can be effective at helping people save more. Researchers working with IPA carried out evaluations in Ghana, Peru, the Philippines, and the Dominican Republic to build the evidence base about text-message reminders to save. In the Philippines, the research team worked with BanKO to evaluate the impact of behaviorally targeted text messages on savings behavior.

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People often report wanting to save more money than they actually do, and rigorous evidence has shown that simple reminders to save can be effective at helping people save more. Researchers working with IPA carried out evaluations in Ghana, Peru, the Philippines, and the Dominican Republic to build the evidence base about text-message reminders to save.

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Digitizing government cash transfers may boost usage of formal financial services among vulnerable households and women’s economic empowerment, but poor delivery of these digital transfers could increase the risks that beneficiaries face.

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Uganda has made substantial advancements in financial consumer protection policy in recent years but understanding whether and how the financial sector complies with these new regulations can be a challenge.

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Payday loans—small short-term loans with high interest rates that become due at the time of the borrower’s next paycheck—are a common form of lending to people with low incomes in the United States. Do borrowers taking out these loans make rational decisions, or do they borrow more than they expect or would like to in the long run?

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