Innovations for Poverty Action

Friday, October 21, 2016

On Friday, October 21st, the Financial Inclusion Program hosted a public webinar as part of Financial Inclusion 2020 Week. The webinar showcased the latest rigorous evidence on how digital products can help consumers overcome behavioral barriers and featured presentations by two of FIP's researchers, William Jack (Georgetown University) and Aaron Dibner-Dunlap (IPA). Their presentations are available below. You can also watch the webinar recording here.

The webinar looked at Jack’s study on the role of digital financial inclusion in boosting savings in Kenya as well as IPA’s continuing work on SMS nudges to build savings. The Georgetown RCT, conducted in three Kenyan counties in 2014 and 2015, aimed to answer whether bank accounts help parents save for their children’s transition to high school and specifically whether locked savings accounts help them to save even more. The study included Kenya’s popular M-Pesa and M-Shwari mobile money services.

It found that parents who were assigned to the M-Shwari and lock-box account treatment groups had done much more to increase their total financial savings (using mobile and other non-financial savings measures) than those in the M-Pesa account only control group. The study also found that take-up of the M-Shwari and locked savings accounts by participating parents significantly increased the rates of their children’s high school enrollment than parents who only used the M-Pesa accounts. Dunlap highlighted their work on mobile phone messages, which has sought to overcome behavioral biases and barriers to savings. IPA’s field experiments with SMS campaigns have tested numerous message types (with content, personalization, timing, and duration variations), and they found that the right messages can help improve financial behavior and often work better than traditional financial education methods.

SMS Nudges to Build Savings