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India, Microfinance, and Technology

Back office management is a source of such stress for many MFIs that it’s exciting to see MFIs trying new and innovative ways of addressing these issues. Sahayata’s back office strategy includes not only technology, but also people and processes.
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The Other Side of the Interest Rate Argument

High interest rates is not a universal problem. In fact, China is facing the opposite issue: interest rates charged by MFIs are too low.
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CGAP Releases Pricing Tool for Mobile Banking for the Unbanked

A few weeks ago, CGAP released a study comparing the prices of 16 branchless banking pioneers and 10 traditional banks across eight use cases. We found that the average monthly cost of using a branchless banking service is $3.90 (PPP adjusted) compared with US$4.80 when using a traditional bank. The conclusion: branchless banking is cheaper than traditional banking, but the gap is not as wide as some may think.
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My Mobile, My Neighbor and $20: A Dispatch from the U.S.

For all the talk about financial services over mobile technology and our aspirations for a cashless society, it is striking to me how far the economies in the U.S. and Europe still have to go.
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How Responsible Are Microfinance Investors?

An overabundance of capital can trigger irresponsible actions or undue risk-taking on the part of investee companies.
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CGAP Releases New Software Reviews

CGAP’s Software Reviews aim to help microfinance institutions (MFIs) make informed technology decisions by facilitating access to information on commercially available information systems (IS) products.
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Mobile Banking: Agents as Mediators

Following on from last week’s post on the concept of ‘mediated use’ – asking someone to complete all or part of a task that the user is unable, or unwilling to do – how motivated are agents in helping customers complete all or some of the task?
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South-South Replication in Africa

A special session at the CGAP Annual Meeting explored the phenomenon of Greenfield banks and South-South replications in sub-Saharan Africa.
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Trickle Up: What’s Up Six Months after Graduation?

The Trickle Up Graduation Pilot in West Bengal is one of the most advanced sites in the CGAP-Ford Foundation Graduation Program—a global effort to understand how safety nets, livelihoods and microfinance can be sequenced to create pathways out of extreme poverty.
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Microfinance in 2010

2010 marks CGAP’s 15th anniversary, providing an opportunity to reflect on the state of microfinance today and CGAP’s role within it. Is microfinance a mature industry, or one still experiencing growing pains?
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Managed Chaos: Keeping Track of Agents

The key is pattern recognition. That’s where the color coding, scoring and sortability of FINO’s system comes into play.
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Can Branchless Banking Be Distributed Like Coca-Cola?

In India, a single distributor for a company like Coca-Cola (or Airtel or Nestle) works with several hundred retailers who sell Coca-Cola’s products. The distributor is responsible for selecting retailers, managing inventory, picking up/delivering cash and managing paperwork (e.g., for SIM registrations). Is it feasible for a distributor to add mobile banking to the other products they sell?
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India’s Doorstep Banking: FINO Starts Something New

FINO agents in Karnataka offer no-frill bank accounts from the State Bank of India (SBI). Some agents also sell insurance products.
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Should There Be Another CGAP, This Time for SME?

The list of reasons to support SME starts with the well-documented role of such enterprises in job creation, and goes on from there.
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CGAP Releases New Research on Banking Agents in India

As part of a new series of research on agents and mobile/branchless banking, this month we started a series of blog posts about recent field visits with some of India’s most prominent organizations that make use of agents.
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Perplexed about Overindebtedness, Part 2

“Indebtedness” refers to loan obligations—that’s easy enough. And the “over” part means too much. But too much from whose perspective?
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Mobile Banking in India: Grass-Roots Marketing

A notable difference in the role of banking agents (also called Customer Service Providers or CSPs) in India compared to other countries is that the agents are responsible for customer acquisition in addition to processing transactions.
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India: Agent Management to Sort Winners from Losers

The regulatory changes made in India last year have uncorked a stream of new branchless banking launches. Three new providers have or are just about to go to market.
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Perplexed about Over-Indebtedness – Part 1

The core practical question is, “how can we figure out whether there is serious over-indebtedness in a given microfinance market?”
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How to Tell Good MFIs from Bad MFIs

Most of us working in microfinance want microloan clients to be paying interest rates that are as low as possible. While we have the same vision, there is disagreement about how to determine whether an interest rate is an appropriate one.