Best of 2015 – What We’re Reading

> Posted by Center Staff

2015 was a year full of great reads (and listens). As we enter 2016, we wanted to take a look back at last year and what we were most excited to explore.  Through our work writing the FI2020 Progress Report, which assesses global progress in five key areas of financial inclusion, we benefited from important research from many in the financial inclusion field.  As part of this effort, we were eager to update our FI2020 Resource Library with the most informative reports and research outputs.  We encourage you to check it out – and in the meantime to review the highlights listed below.  The organizations responsible for these reports cover a wide array of stakeholder types, from support organizations, to telecommunication companies, to financial service providers – proof that progress in financial inclusion is being driven by many.

What Happens to Microfinance Clients Who Default? (January)
The Smart Campaign
Author: Jami Solli
This report looks in-depth at the enabling environment, the practices of providers, and customer experiences in Peru, India, and Uganda, to understand what happens when microfinance clients default on their loans. We were especially interested in the paper’s findings that demonstrate that effective credit bureaus give financial service providers the confidence to treat customers who default more humanely.

Money Resolutions: A Sketchbook (January)
Author: Ignacio Mas 
This working paper explores the underlying logic for how people make money resolutions, including how people organize their money and make decisions about financial goals and spending. The paper focuses on peoples’ approaches to making financial decisions – rather than evaluating the decisions themselves – identifying the inner conflicts they face in the process.

Money Resolutions, Digital Simulations (February)
This companion paper to Ignacio’s paper above examines how a digital financial service platform could support the financial decision-making practices used by the poor. It focuses on two practices in particular, money animation and liquidity farming, and puts them in the context of addressing customer needs in a digital service context.

Research Consensus Confirms Benefits of Alternative Data (March)
Policy & Economic Research Council (PERC)
In this report, PERC finds compelling evidence to support the use of fully reported non-financial payment histories in consumer and commercial credit decisions as an on-ramp for credit invisible consumers in the United States.  

The Future of Fintech and Banking: Digitally Disrupted or Reimagined? (March)
Authors: Julian Skan, James Dickerson, Samad Masood
Investment in fintech companies grew by approximately 200 percent in 2014, compared to 63 percent growth in overall venture-capital investments, confirming that this sector will continue to be an important player. The digital revolution in financial services has arrived, but it remains unclear what the impact on current banking players will be. This report brings together the views of 25 influential financial services executives involved in innovation, and maps out the activities that will be necessary to allow them to disrupt their own business model rather than watch competing models overtake them.

Annual State of the Industry Report (March)
The report highlights the important developments taking place in mobile money, mobile insurance, mobile savings, and mobile credit for industry practitioners. This year we were especially interested by the insights that emerged from experiments in interoperability.

Client Protection Principles: Model Law and Commentary for Financial Consumer Protection (April)
Microfinance CEO Working Group
The Model Law creates a legal framework for financial client protection based on the Smart Campaign’s Client Protection Principles. The Model Law is intended to be used as a tool for legislation development, as an assessment vehicle for understanding client protection regulation, and to help craft codes of conduct or guidelines from within the industry.

The Global Findex Database 2014 (April)
The World Bank
After three years, the World Bank released its second Global Findex database which tracks access to financial services globally.  It reports that the number of financially excluded people globally dropped from 2.5 billion in 2011 to 2 billion in 2014 – displaying that we may be on track for universal access by 2020.  We were excited to dive deep into the data in our By the Numbers report which focuses on quality beyond access.

Doing Digital Finance Right (June)
Authors: Katharine McKee, Michelle Kaffenberger, Jamie Zimmerman
This report draws on evidence from consumer research in 16 markets to identify the risks faced by consumers of digital financial services, the consequences of those risks, and how they can be addressed—specifically from the perspective of vulnerable customers.

Global AgeWatch Index 2015 (September)
HelpAge International
As we aim to address the needs of all underserved population segments, it is imperative that we focus on aging persons.  In this report, HelpAge International ranks countries on quality of life for older people based on access to pensions, healthcare, employment, and higher education.

Spotlight on Rural Supply: Critical Factors to Create Successful Mobile Money Agents (October)
While focused primarily on two markets, Mali and Chad, this GSMA publication underscores the importance of developing an agent network for work specifically in rural areas. The report broadly highlights liquidity management, selection criteria, and agent network management.

The Uberization of Money (Podcast) (November)
On Point with Tom Ashbrook
The new model for banking and investing is one in which middlemen direct consumers to the best products rather than consumers approaching providers on their own – similar to Uber directing riders to cars. While we have not seen great evidence of this trickling down to base of the pyramid customers, we are excited about its possibilities to address customer needs. The podcast, built on reports from The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, and The Atlantic, explores the promises—and pitfalls—of this new trend in financial technology.

The Global Microscope 2015 (December)
The Economist Intelligence Unit
The Global Microscope 2015 assesses the regulatory ecosystem for financial inclusion by evaluating 12 indicators across a range of developing economies around the world. This year’s Microscope is the ninth edition of the study and the second that looks beyond microfinance, evaluating countries across the wider landscape of financial inclusion.

Financial Inclusion 2020 (FI2020) is a global multi-stakeholder movement to achieve full financial inclusion, using the year 2020 as a focal point for action. This blog series will spotlight financial inclusion efforts around the globe and share insights from key thought leaders in financial inclusion, with a specific focus on quality beyond access.

Have you read?

CFI and MIX Launch the FI2020 Inclusion Visualizer

FI2020 Week E-Magazine: Themes, Highlights, and Calls to Action

The Data Story in the FI2020 Progress Report on Credit Reporting

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