The price of digital financial services (DFS) can be an obstacle to its adoption and regular use, particularly in low-and-middle income countries (LMIC). In Uganda Innovations for Poverty Actions (IPA) is developing a transaction cost index (TCI) to measure the monetary and non-monetary costs of conducting DFS transactions. IPA researchers will test four methods to determine the most cost-effective way to accurately calculate real transaction costs.

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Digital tools have enabled people around the world to access banking and financial services. The rise of these technologies, however, has been accompanied by an increase in fraud risks, which are often difficult to measure due to consumer underreporting or unawareness. In Kenya, researchers conducted a research project to measure individuals’ level of scam identification ability, asking participants to classify example messages as fraudulent or genuine.

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Widespread adoption of social distancing can help communities and countries slow the spread of COVID-19.

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Refugees and asylum seekers often struggle to find jobs in their host countries, even when they have unrestricted right to work. This is especially true in low-income countries, home to the majority of the displaced populations in the world.

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The high prevalence of digital financial fraud makes it difficult for businesses to distinguish between real communications from digital service providers and fraudulent communication. This can lead to a lack of trust in digital financial services.

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Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be an effective mental health approach for people living in poverty, who are especially vulnerable to mental distress and face unique demands on their mental “bandwidth.” Researchers worked with Innovations for Poverty Action and the University of Ghana Medical School to design, implement, and conduct a randomized evaluation of the impacts of a group CBT curriculum on low-income individuals in rural Ghana.

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Slums and poor neighborhoods around the world are occupied by powerful criminal organizations that increasingly recruit young people. What factors lead people to join these groups, and how can governments prevent recruitment?

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Fraud in mobile banking can be difficult to detect, and consumers often do not know they were targeted until after the transaction occurred. This can lead to consumer distrust of mobile banking services, particularly for consumers who have a higher chance of experiencing fraud, like women. In Ghana, researchers are measuring the impact of fraud recognition and avoidance training on encouraging female microfinance consumers to take up mobile banking services.

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Third-party fraud poses a significant threat to the healthy expansion of digital financial services and the financial health of consumers. In Uganda, researchers are conducting data analysis using customer service data and social media to identify risk factors associated with fraud. Based on the results, the research team will design fraud prevention messages aimed at vulnerable populations.

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Third-party fraud poses a significant threat to the healthy expansion of digital financial services and the financial health of consumers. In Uganda, researchers are conducting data analysis using customer service data and social media to identify risk factors associated with fraud. Based on the results, the research team will design fraud prevention messages aimed at vulnerable populations.

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Disputes over mobile money transactions between consumers and service providers often go unresolved. This may hurt consumers, prevent them from paying their bills, and reduce their trust in providers. As such, the lack of resolution can discourage consumers from adopting potentially advantageous mobile accounts. In Uganda, researchers are designing an intervention offering free legal consultation to mobile money consumers to help resolve disputes with service providers.

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How do inexperienced consumers learn to use a new financial technology? Consumer financial products, such as bank and mobile money accounts, can significantly increase financial inclusion, yet inexperienced consumers of new financial technologies are often vulnerable to exploitation by financial intermediaries. Can an electronic bank or mobile money payroll system increase account usage and savings, while reducing consumer risks?

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There is a limited understanding of how access to formal financial services may have helped vulnerable populations cope with the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Did formal savings help families cope with interruptions in employment? And, did digital remittances help mitigate the financial shocks of the pandemic?

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The growth of digital financial services has been accompanied by an increase in digital fraud. This raises certain questions: How can consumers effectively raise concerns and seek help? Can analyzing social media posts and customer support artificial conversations (chatbots) provide greater insight into consumers’ experiences and ways to prevent fraud?

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Illegal mining is prominent throughout the world but is rarely reported to authorities responsible for monitoring mining activities. In Colombia, Colombia Mining Monitoring (CoMiMo1) uses artificial intelligence and satellite technology to locate possible illegal mines.

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High fees and lack of pricing transparency may be a barrier to accessing financial services, especially for low-income and rural populations. In Nigeria, where access to financial services is lower than in neighboring countries, the Central Bank issued regulations to limit customer fees. However, anecdotal evidence suggests these regulations are not always followed.

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Millions of informal sector workers in low- and middle-income countries are excluded from formal pension and social security systems, posing potential economic challenges for old age populations. Micropensions may help to address these challenges—but more information is needed about the demand for these products.

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Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) represent an important source of employment in many low- and middle-income countries. Therefore, finding the most effective measures to help SMEs respond and recover when faced with economic crises, like those triggered by COVID-19, is of high policy relevance.

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Electoral irregularities—illegal activities seeking to influence elections—often threaten democratic institutions in low- and middle-income countries. In Colombia, researchers conducted a randomized evaluation to measure the impact of an intervention that encouraged citizens to report irregularities to a local NGO and varied whether candidates were informed about the reporting campaign.

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