the mif blog

Stories of inspiring entrepreneurs and organizations, discussion and commentary of new trends in private sector development, and the latest events and publications.

How can we make better use of remittances?

By Tomas Miller

By Tomas Miller and Maria Luisa Hayem 

Headlines about international remittances—money sent by migrants to their countries of origin—often focus on amounts. In 2014, for example, remittances received in Latin America and the Caribbean managed to surpass the record high set in 2008, reaching $65.4 billion. But beyond their amount, remittances are an important tool for financial inclusion in Latin America and the Caribbean. We at the Multilateral Investment Fund have been working on the issue of remittances for 13 years. In that time, we have seen significant progress on many fronts, including: reductions in the cost of sending payments; the use of technologies such as the Internet and mobile phones to facilitate sending and receiving; and more efficient distribution through the growing number of points of service for receiving remittances, such as agent banking.

Being the master of your own time in Paraguay

By Rebecca Rouse

When was the last time your bank let you know how much they valued your time? Better yet, when was the last time they proved it to you? For most of us, waiting in line is just a part of life. Applying for a loan? Get in line. Picking up a remittance? The line starts here. Right? Not necessarily. Last week in the city of Luque, Paraguay, I had the chance to tour a new model of bank branch that is trying to reinvent the customer experience. 

No one visits the microentrepreneur

By Fermín Vivanco

Photo: Javier Davila, breakwaybackpacker

Technology can complement a good client relationship, but it cannot replace it

A good client relationship is essential to the business models for financial inclusion in the region. There is a risk of weakening this relationship if it is channeled solely through electronic means.

These days, the MIF is starting an evaluation in Paraguay of Tigo Money: Last Mile Mobile Financial Services, the first project within the Technologies for Financial Inclusion (Tec-In) Program  to reach the finish line. Among other things, the evaluation will help us better understand clients’ experiences in applying for credit via mobile devices through Credicedula. This is a signature product of Tigo Paraguay, winner of the 2014 Inter-American Award on Digital Finance, and Banco Familiar, winner of theBeyond Banking Award 2015 - both presented by the IDB. Through Credicedula, clients apply for credit directly from their cellphones, without having to contact a loan officer or visit the officer at a branch.

Can we invest intelligently in microfinance?

By Yuri Soares

Microfinance has grown from an outfit financed by a few donors and philanthropic foundations, to a large and profitable industry: a multi-billion-dollar worldwide endeavor reaching 2 billion clients in low- and middle-income countries. The amount of international public and private funding to microfinance institutions has likewise increased dramatically—I estimate by a factor of 14 over the past decade — reaching $31 billion in 2013. Given this success, and the amount spent by impact investors (including development finance institutions such as the Inter-American Development Bank), are we investing intelligently? 

Is bringing financial inclusion to your doorstep the solution?

By Andrea Reyes Hurtado

The recent publication of the memoires from the savings colloquium organized by the ProSavings Program in November 2014 led me to reflect on several issues. For instance, even though inclusive savings experiences have been implemented in several different parts of the region, we find that people who live in remote locations continue to face prohibitive costs in traveling to points of service to make deposits and thus achieve their savings goals. While the ProSavings Program has contributed toward motivating conditional transfer beneficiaries to save in a formal way - something this segment rarely did before- I wonder: what is the solution for those people who still find formal savings extremely costly?