Effectiveness of Mexico’s Credit Disclosure Reforms

SUMMARY INFORMATION

  • PROJECT TITLE: Evaluating the effectiveness of Mexico’s credit disclosure reforms on consumer understanding and financial decision-making
  • TARGET SEGMENT: Low-income consumers in the credit and basic savings markets
  • DELIVERY CHANNEL: Government-mandated product disclosure formats; phone and SMS financial capability counseling
  • EVALUATION TEAM: Xavier Gine (World Bank); Rafe Mazer (World Bank); Cristina Martinez Cuellar (World Bank)
  • PARTNERS: National Commission for the Defense and Protection of Financial Service Users (CONDUSEF)
  • TIMELINE: December 2011 – January 2013

PROJECT SNAPSHOT

An important question in financial capability policy is whether consumers learn financial lessons more easily through school-based traditional methods (such as in the classroom, in training seminars and in workshops, etc), or by accessing clear and easy to understand information in the marketplace. In Mexico, this question is of increasing importance for a number of reasons: increased use of financial products in recent years (particularly amongst low-income consumers); evidence of repayment problems and hidden charges in some credit and savings products; and many types of regulated and non-regulated financial institutions, making oversight and market monitoring a constant challenge.

This study explores the intersection between consumer protection and financial capability by comparing how product-specific information and broader financial capability messages impact short and medium-term financial decision-making of the low-income consumers for basic credit and savings products. It will also evaluate the impact of several different channels for communicating important financial messages to consumers, including: point-of-sale disclosure; information to facilitate comparison shopping; financial counseling by phone; and periodic financial capability SMS messages.

By exploring this intersection the research hopes to offer new insights into whether the type of market conduct reforms and policy interventions that have been used to date solely for consumer protection purposes can actually be used to improve financial capability and influence sound financial decision-making. With the high cost of traditional curriculum-based financial education programs, finding regulatory approaches to improve financial capability has the potential to offer promising policy options for resource-constrained governments interested in improving financial capability levels.

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