Research Topics

EPAR Technical Reports #351a & #351b
Publication Date: 04/13/2017
Type: Literature Review
Abstract

351a: Review of Digital Credit Products in India, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda

A “new wave” of digital credit products has entered the digital financial services (DFS) market in recent years. These products differ from traditional credit by offering loans to borrowers that can be applied for, approved, and disbursed remotely (often without any brick-and-mortar infrastructure), automatically (generally minimizing or eliminating person-to-person interaction), and instantly (often in less than 72 hours). Digital credit also increasingly considers creditworthiness by using alternative (nontraditional) data—ranging from mobile phone activity to utility payments and social media data—potentially allowing for loans to populations previously unable to access bank credit.

We conducted a review of digital credit products in India, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda, focusing on products established within the last 10 years that offer loans to individuals or small business owners (rather than groups or business entities). This report summarizes findings from a review of 68 digital credit products in these five countries, identifying common technology platforms, business models, and loan terms used. In addition, we outline major types of partnerships and stated customer segments of digital credit products, and summarize the types of alternative creditworthiness data used to score potential borrowers. We then present early information about digital credit default rates and potential risks to the consumer as the market develops.

Some features of digital credit products, such as interest rates and repayments lengths, differ by geography: Indian products, on average, typically offer longer repayment terms and lower interest rates than African products, potentially because they more frequently require links to bank accounts so may perceive lower risk in their loans. Due to limited loan volumes and performance data it is currently unclear how these digital credit products might impact borrowers and markets, but we find that the digital credit products reviewed often have relatively high interest rates and charge multiple fees, which may adversely affect borrowers if these are not clearly communicated. Most products require borrowers to provide social media and other personal information to receive loans, potentially supporting individuals without a formal credit history to access formal loans but raising privacy concerns. 15 of the products we identified specifically state that they target underserved populations such as low-income populations, but it is not clear what efforts they make to reach these populations or how successful they are in doing so. Many of the products are very recent (16 products are less than a year old or in the planning stage) so their uptake and impact among target populations remains to be seen, though some provider claims on client numbers suggest widespread use.  

Explore more of the characteristics of the digital credit products we reviewed with our interactive data visualization.

351b: Digital Credit Regulation in Selected Countries in Africa and Asia

We conducted a targeted review of peer-reviewed and grey literature to identify specific regulatory concerns arising from the growth of digital credit products. We identified five regulatory issues related to digital credit that concern market conduct (data management and privacy, product disclosure, customer redress, consumer over-indebtedness, and rates and pricing) and five issues that concern systemic risk (licensing and reporting requirements, lending prohibition, regulatory sandboxes, capital requirements, and governance requirements). All of these issues concern financial services more broadly, but we find evidence of specific concerns related to characteristics of digital credit.

We found no regulatory documents from Africa or Asia that specifically mention "digital credit," but identified 20 regulatory documents from multiple African and Asian countries and jurisdictions that specifically target different aspects of the online and mobile credit and lending industries and that include regulations addressing the digital credit regulatory challenges highlighted in the literature. Existing regulations that do not specifically mention online/digital credit/lending may also be applied to address these digital credit regulatory issues, so a low number of regulatory documents does not mean a particular issue is not covered in country regulations—only that few new regulatory documents have emerged to address the particular potential concerns around digital credit.

While we found few documents with regulations addressing the ten current regulatory issues we identified and specifically mentioning digital/online credit/lending, countries may implement additional regulations or modify regulations if they determine existing regulations inadequately cover digital credit challenges. For example, more data management and privacy regulations may be needed to address the unique nature of using alternative data as criteria for financial decisions. Existing regulations may be amended to more clearly specify whether different types of digital credit business models and providers are covered by the terms of the regulations. Additionally, as more information is collected on the digital credit market (e.g., the amount of new debt created by digital credit products; the number and types of new consumer groups that access digital credit products), regulations may be developed to address issues that have yet to be identified.

EPAR Technical Report #339
Publication Date: 10/07/2016
Type: Data Analysis
Abstract

Previous EPAR research considered how public good characteristics of different types of research and development (R&D) and the motivations of different providers of R&D funding affect the relative advantages of alternative funding sources. We summarized the public good characteristics of R&D investment for agriculture in general and for commodity and subsistence crops in particular, and hypothesized how these characteristics might be expected to affect public, private, or philanthropic funders’ investment decisions. 

This paper builds on this previous research, using data on public sector investment in agricultural R&D in Sub-Saharan Africa. Drawing on data from FAOSTAT and the Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI), we explore relationships between indicators of agricultural R&D investment and various factors hypothesized to influence public investment decisions, including national demographic and economic indicators and indicators of crop production and value. We analyze which factors appear to be most strongly associated with investment patterns in public agricultural R&D, and whether these patterns align with theoretical expectations of where the public sector would be incentivized to invest.

Our analysis for this project is not yet complete, but in the meantime we invite you to view our interactive data visualization which allows you to explore our data and some of our initial analysis. We have also uploaded a spreadsheet of the data used to produce this visualization.

EPAR Technical Report #329
Publication Date: 06/20/2016
Type: Literature Review
Abstract

This paper considers how public good characteristics of different types of research and development (R&D) and the motivations of different providers of R&D funding affect the relative advantages of alternative funding sources. We summarize the public good characteristics of R&D for agriculture in general and for commodity and subsistence crops in particular, as well as R&D for health in general and for neglected diseases in particular, with a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Finally, we present rationales for which funders are predicted to fund which R&D types based on these funder and R&D characteristics. We then compile available statistics on funding for agricultural and health R&D from private, public and philanthropic sources, and compare trends in funding from these sources against expectations. We find private agricultural R&D spending focuses on commodity crops (as expected). However contrary to expectations we find public and philanthropic spending also goes largely towards these same crops rather than staples not targeted by private funds. For health R&D private funders similarly concentrate on diseases with higher potential financial returns. However unlike in agricultural R&D, in health R&D we observe some specialization across funders – especially for neglected diseases R&D - consistent with funders’ expected relative advantages.

 

EPAR Technical Report #324
Publication Date: 03/31/2016
Type: Literature Review
Abstract

In Sub-Saharan Africa, 12% of adults now report having a mobile money account, representing over a quarter of the share of those who have any kind of financial account at all. As mobile money expands, there is interest in how regulatory frameworks develop to support digital financial services (DFS) and also support broader financial inclusion. In theory, protecting consumers from risk, and ensuring that they have the information and understanding required to make informed decisions, may increase their confidence and trust in mobile money systems, leading to higher adoption and usage rates. However, consumer protection regulations may also carry certain trade-offs in terms of cost, usage, and innovation.  The challenge, according to proponents of consumer protection, is to develop regulations that promote access and innovation, yet still offer an acceptable level of consumer protection. We review the literature on consumer protection institutions and regulatory documents for DFS (particularly mobile money) in 22 developing countries, and identify examples of specific consumer protection regulations relevant to mobile money in each country. Following an introduction to regulatory institutions and documents relating to consumer protection and DFS, we identify examples of regulations covering charges to consumers including fees, tariffs, and taxes for DFS in each country. We then review consumer protection regulations relating to costs from consumer losses resulting from system errors, erroneous transactions, agent misconduct, bankruptcy, and fraud. We further review regulations relating to transparency of provider terms and conditions, procedures for protecting consumers from harm, and complaints and dispute resolution. 

EPAR Research Brief #325
Publication Date: 01/30/2016
Type: Literature Review
Abstract

This brief reviews the various definitions of global public goods (GPGs) and regional public goods (RPGs) found in the literature and provides examples of each in six frequently discussed sectors: environment, health, knowledge, security, governance, and infrastructure. We identify multiple alternative definitions that have gained some traction in the literature, but GPGs are generally agreed to exhibit publicness in consumption, distribution of benefits, and decision-making. Because policy choices determine what is and what is not a GPG, there cannot be a fixed list of such goods; some always have the property of global publicness, while others have over time changed from being local or national to being global in terms of benefits and costs. GPGs are thus redefined as goods that are in the global public domain. GPG and RPG financing mechanisms include payments by users and beneficiaries, taxes, fees, and levies, private funding by non-profit corporations, profit-making firms, and philanthropic individuals and organizations, national and international public resources, and partnerships between several sources of financing. We conclude with an analysis of trends in GPG and RPG financing through Official Development Assistance (ODA) using time series data from the OECD’s Creditor Reporting System and other sources. We find that 14% of ODA in 2014 was allocated to sub-sectors labelled by Reiner et al. as GPGs, while 15% of ODA was allocated to RPGs, and that GPG and RPG spending has steadily increased from 2002-2014.

EPAR Research Brief #320
Publication Date: 01/29/2016
Type: Literature Review
Abstract

This brief provides a summary of background research for future aid-related EPAR projects. We first review prominent measures of aid, examining the definition and scope of Official Development Assistance (ODA) as well as common criticisms and alternatives to this measurement. We also provide a summary of current research on bilateral and multilateral aid allocation trends. The aid allocation literature broadly concludes that donor countries target aid based on both the needs of recipients and on strategic interests, but that aid allocation criteria differ by donor and by type of aid. Finally, we summarize current aid effectiveness literature and key challenges in exploring the impact of aid. A number of challenges in determining the effectiveness of aid were common in the literature, including the micro-macro paradox, difficulties in identifying causal mechanisms and direction of causality, and data limitations.

EPAR Research Brief #316
Publication Date: 12/13/2015
Type: Literature Review
Abstract

The literature on poverty’s causes and cures in developing countries posits a variety of contributing factors. Most researchers acknowledge that a sustained exit from poverty is complex and no single causal pathway from poverty to non-poverty exists. In this review, we present a summary framework for categorizing the various theorized pathways out of poverty, and evaluate the empirical evidence for which interventions and resulting outcomes are most frequently and most strongly associated with poverty alleviation. We conducted a literature review on pathways out of poverty for low-income households in developing countries and identified and categorized general strategies and outcomes demonstrated to be empirically associated with poverty alleviation. We organized the general strategies into four asset groups that could be targeted to alleviate poverty: human, natural, built / financial, and social / political. Much of the literature presents positive results on poverty alleviation, but it is difficult to compare across studies because many of the studies were conducted in different countries and at different scales, and use a variety of outcome measures.

EPAR Technical Report #306
Publication Date: 09/18/2015
Type: Literature Review
Abstract

We review the status and characteristics of 48 national identity programs and initiatives in 43 developing countries, and evaluate how these programs are being connected to—or used for—service provision. The identity programs we review are mainly government-issued national IDs. However, we also review other types of national identity programs with links to various services including voter cards, passports, and two programs targeting the poor and the banking population. Following a brief review of the roles of identity systems in development and recent identity system trends, we present an overview of the 48 national identity programs, including technical features (such as whether physical identities incorporate an electronic component or are embedded with biometric features), implementation status, population enrollment strategies, and coverage. We next review evidence of implementation challenges around accountability, privacy, data management, enrollment, coverage, cost, and harmonization of identity programs. Finally, we present the functional applications of national identity programs, reporting how these programs are linked with services in finance, health, agriculture, elections, and other areas, and analyzing whether particular identity program characteristics are associated with functional applications.

EPAR Technical Report #300
Publication Date: 08/21/2015
Type: Literature Review
Abstract

This report reviews approaches to results measurement used by multilateral and bilateral donor organizations and highlights trends and gaps in how donors measure and report on their performance. Our review consists of assessing donor organizations in terms of their institutional design and levels of evaluation for results measurement, their organizational processes for measuring types of results including coordination and alignment with recipients, outputs and implementation, outcomes and impacts, and costs and effectiveness, and their processes for reporting and using results information. We collect evidence on 12 bilateral organizations and 10 multilateral organizations. The evidence review includes multi-country reviews of aid effectiveness, peer reviews by other donor organizations, donor evaluation plans and frameworks, and donor results and reporting documents. The report is based on an accompanying spreadsheet that contains the coded information from the 22 donor organizations. We find that donors report several types of results, but that there are challenges to measuring certain results at the aggregate donor level, due to challenges with funding and coordination for results measurement at the project, country, portfolio, and donor levels. Approaches to results measurement vary across donor organizations. We identify some trends and differences among groups of donors, notably between bilateral and multilateral donors, but overall there are no clear delineations in how donors approach results measurement. 

EPAR Technical Report #309
Publication Date: 08/12/2015
Type: Literature Review
Abstract

We review the current body of literature exploring the theories behind holistic human development measurements and the tradeoffs of different methodologies for the construction of human development indices. Through a systematic review of published and grey literature in the fields of human, international, and economic development we identify 22 current indices that aggregate measures from multiple dimensions of human development. We then analyze these indices to identify tradeoffs related to their unique characteristics and construction methodologies, considering ease of calculation, coverage of different measures of human development, ease of interpretation, comparability, and novelty. The report is accompanied by an appendix of summary tables for each index with further details regarding background information, methodology, index components, and evaluation criteria addressed within the report.