India - Impact of Access, Knowledge and Service Delivery on Savings

SUMMARY INFORMATION

  • PROJECT TITLE: The Role of Financial Access, Knowledge and Service Delivery in Savings Behavior and Welfare
  • TARGET SEGMENT: Low-income rural households in Bihar State
  • DELIVERY CHANNEL: Opening of saving account and intensive training to household members
  • EVALUATION TEAM: Leopold Sarr (World Bank), Dr. Nathan Fiala (German Institute for Economic Research), Dr. Santadarshan Sadhu (Institute for Financial Management Research)
  • PARTNERS: EKO India Financial Services
  • TIMELINE: March 2011 - March 2012

PROJECT SNAPSHOT

A new financial inclusion and literacy impact evaluation will be conducted jointly with Eko India Financial Services, a microfinance institution in India, in order to expand the research base on the impact that knowledge of financial services can have on financial literacy and financial inclusion. It will also deepen the learning on how various financial services delivery modes impact upon the overall welfare of low-income households and on their savings behaviors.

Eko is one of the few institutions to offer “doorstep banking” and financial services in this area of India. Most of the villages in which Eko operates have little or no access to banks. The problem of access to banking is further exacerbated by the fact that the people with whom Eko works come from very low income families and thus face numerous difficulties in opening savings accounts. To solve these access issues, Eko utilizes a savings program in the villages. Thus, people can conduct immediate transactions within their village instead of traveling long distances to access a bank.

In terms of the project’s evaluation methodology, the treatment group will be given financial literacy education, particularly about the importance and benefits of savings. Following the training, researchers will present simple and cheap methods for follow-ups to increase the retention of information from the training. The program is a multi-round, financial education intervention where an initial round of training will be provided in a classroom session using standard tools, which will be reinforced by intensive follow-ups. The treatment group will receive additional rounds of training via their mobile phones through SMS and voice messages for the first few months, and will be physically visited by a trainer after six months.

From this project promoting increased access to doorstep banking, researchers expect to see an increase in the number of financial transactions customers undertake. Meanwhile, the training component will help shed light on the mechanisms through which intra-household financial decisions are made. Finally, researchers will explore the potential that intensive financial education training has to influence financial behaviors and well-being by comparing treatment with control groups.

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