CFI Research Fellows Program

Addressing the most pressing questions facing the financial inclusion community


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Addressing the big, unanswered questions in financial inclusion

Launched in July 2015, the CFI Research Fellows Program encourages independent researchers and analysts to systematically examine some of the most important challenges in financial inclusion. Each year, we announce the research agenda in the form of a request for proposals, vet proposals for tackling the subject, and announce a new cohort of fellows. The Program affords fellows the opportunity to perform research, analysis, or writing on an important topic, and to share insights and recommendations broadly with the financial inclusion community.

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CFI Fellow Leon Perlman presents findings from his report, Technology Inequality: Opportunities and Challenges for Mobile Financial Services, in April 2017.
CFI Fellow Leon Perlman presents findings from his report, Technology Inequality: Opportunities and Challenges for Mobile Financial Services, in April 2017.

Research Agenda

Research Agenda

Our 2019 research agenda is focused on APIs, MSME lending and financial health topics.

Financial institutions of all sizes are finding that fintech partnerships can help them reach underserved customer segments. These partnerships frequently involve the use of APIs to create the necessary connections and data sharing between fintech and financial institution. However, it may be especially challenging for smaller financial institutions to benefit from such connections.

How do recent efforts to create more accessible APIs function? Which models are working well? Research should include a comparison between mass APIs, API marketplaces, open APIs, bespoke APIs, and custom partnerships, recognizing that there are opportunities and challenges associated with each.

E-invoicing is increasingly mandated by governments across Latin America, and in selected other countries as a tax compliance initiative (KPMG, 2017). This practice may have spillover effects for financial inclusion.

Through the collection and analysis of rich transaction data from micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that electronic invoicing provides, lenders are finding new ways of assessing this customer segment. Have more MSMEs become financially included as a result of these efforts? This research will identify which providers are leveraging this data to improve their lending operations for MSMEs and through what means.

This fellowship will review the current status of health finance initiatives in the developing world or in a region or set of countries. It will identify and analyze the key challenges that existing programs encounter, with reference to the most successful models.

Financial health is an increasingly important concept in the financial inclusion ecosystem, but one often overlooked set of actors is employers. Employers have an important stake in the financial health of their employees, as financial problems can create stress, absenteeism and other problems.

This fellowship will explore the research on financial stress and employment to better articulate why employers in emerging markets should care about financial health, the interest of employers in active involvement, examples of good practice and/or tools or resources that employers need to get involved.

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