The Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) will embark on a four-year research initiative focused on deepening digital financial inclusion in low and middle-income countries (LMICs).
The multi-million-dollar project dubbed ‘The Retail Finance Distribution (ReFindD) will also improve women’s access to financial services.
It seeks to catalyse collaborations among researchers, policymakers and financial service providers to experiment with practical solutions for expanding the reach of banking agent networks.
This will be essential for connecting low-income households, women and vulnerable populations to formal financial services.
Among other reasons, the project will aim to demonstrate “how to effectively expand the reach of agent networks through public policy and commercial solutions that can plausibly be scaled.”
It will also demonstrate “how to advance public knowledge about the structural constraints limiting agent networks globally.”
Director of ISSER, Prof Peter Quartey, has explained that the project will promote access to finance marginalised groups like women and people experiencing poverty.
“A meaningful response to the growing interest and pressure to deepen digital finance requires strong data and evidence-led insights to guide the framing of policies. The Retail Finance Distribution (ReFinD)research initiative is a timely opportunity for ISSER to contribute to deepening digital financial inclusion with data and illuminating findings.
“We seek to engage researchers from the Global North and the Global South to expand the representation of researchers from the Global South in development studies and foster future partnerships and capacity building,” he said.
The project led by Prof Peter Quartey and Prof Francis Annan of Georgia State University is expected to be launched in the first half of this year, with a kick-off event and issue of the first requests for proposals for pilot studies and experimental research.
It will be funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The initiative will fund research projects through multiple calls for pilot studies and experimental research.
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