Challenge of promoting effective financial inclusion: an investigation of factors that lead to active use of financial services & improved livelihoods

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bath
Department Name: Social and Policy Sciences

Abstract

Summary: A growing literature shows financial inclusion can have a significant positive effect for individuals: access to financial services helps individuals mitigate risk & absorb shocks, make key investments in education & health, & start & expand businesses. However, mere access to financial services is not enough to obtain these positive effects; households need to actually use these services. Using qualitative & quantitative methods, I intend to analyze how public authorities are fostering the use of financial services, & how they can do so in the future.
The question remains, beyond the initial account opening, how can public policies & programs increase the use of accounts & financial products among the banked? Can policies & programs also provide incentives to poor households to use their accounts? What are the bottlenecks to financial products & services usage: inadequate policies? Insufficient financial capability of the households? Lack of appropriate technology solutions? High costs for clients & suppliers? The objective of this research is to assess if & how the regulatory frameworks in place, by affecting these elements, have an effect on the use of financial products in a country. I also intend to conduct case studies on public initiatives towards electronic G2P payments & other programs implemented to expand financial inclusion, to understand if & why they lead to a greater use of financial products. Methodology: This work is divided in three steps & includes both qualitative & quantitative analysis. Research pillar I: I aim to start by discussing the financial inclusion strategies conducted in a large sample of low-income countries. This includes the analysis of the long-term financial institutions in place, the policies implemented, & the evolution of the access & usage of financial services. Understanding the historical financial inclusion efforts in diverse developing countries can be a rich source of knowledge for future policies. Some of the guiding questions (non-exhaustive list) are adapted from Thorsten Beck's (2013) report on financial development: What are institutions & policies that were/are most relevant for financial inclusion, & FS usage in particular? Is there a sequence for financial inclusion policies implementation? What long-term socio-economic factors can help explain both supply & demand for financial services (FS)? Following this analysis, I will construct a regulatory index based on work by Gutierriez & Singh (2013). The adapted indicator will include new dimensions: financial literacy initiatives; existence of different types of financial actors, existence of basic/low-fee accounts, electronic G2P payments etc. Research pillar II: I will conduct case studies in developing countries examining recent public initiatives towards financial inclusion & their effects on use of financial services. Through studying these initiatives I will seek to identify: *If these schemes led to the opening of the new "first accounts" or if the beneficiaries already had a formal bank account; * How they use their account: do they use it only for the program, or for other operations too; if they have accessed new banking products since they joined the scheme *If they want/wanted to have access to specific financial services, & they know how to do so through their bank account etc, *How to enhance account usage & financial products access through the implementation of this scheme. In India 2 initiatives will be studied: Direct Benefit Transfer (PaHal) for liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), & Eshakti Initiative on the digitization of Self-Help Groups (SHG). Analysis of primary data collected through surveys, analysis of secondary data, & adequate review of literature will be conducted to respond to all research points & formulate recommendations. Data collection & analysis will be organized with Institute for Financial Management & Research, Chennai, India where I've previously worked. OFA/DLT will be requested.

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000630/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
1786832 Studentship ES/P000630/1 03/10/2016 02/04/2023 Aurélie Dominique Larquemin