Sports betting has emerged as one of the fastest growing forms of gambling, with new technologies facilitating its rapid spread into new markets in developing countries. What explains the persistent popularity of sports betting despite such a low rate of return from participation?

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How do cash transfers support newly-designated vulnerable populations and informal workers during an economic crisis? To help answer these questions, researchers studied  the effect of Ingreso Solidario (Solidarity Income), a new unconditional cash transfer in Colombia that was launched in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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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 income 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? Researchers partnered with a large payday lender in Indiana to conduct an evaluation to better understand consumers’ decision-making.

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What’s the impact of digital credit on micro, small and medium enterprises? Are there differential effects on enterprises owned by women? If so, why?

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Lack of access to finance limits small business growth—a problem that is exacerbated for Muslim business-owners, many of whom do not take out traditional loans for religious reasons. Innovations for Poverty Action supported research in Pakistan on a lease-based product that features more flexible repayment schedules, allows businesses to share risk with a large microfinance institution, and complies with local Islamic financial norms.

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To meet their saving goals, farmers often rely on informal saving mechanisms and commitment devices. But how much do farmers value these saving services? In partnership with a local dairy cooperative, researchers utilized a combination of evaluations and surveys to measure dairy farmers’ responses to various price and timing incentives.

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Can redesigning pension statements increase the understanding of key facts related to the pension system and improve coverage? Researchers in Colombia partnered with Colpensiones, Colombia’s public pension fund administrator, to test the effect of redesigning pension statements on the beneficiaries' understanding of the information presented and the identification of potential errors in their statements.

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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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Social Media apps on a phone - via dole777 on Unsplash

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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The expansion of digital credit in recent years creates an urgent need to monitor the digital credit market to develop policies to improve product suitability and responsible lending. In Kenya, this expansion over the past five years has increased access to credit but also led to new consumer risks.

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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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