> Posted by Center Staff

This edition of Top Picks features three posts that each bring attention to a type of financial service: cash transfers both unconditional and conditional, mobile money, and gold savings and loans in India.

  • In “The Life and Death of Cash”, a new post on the Financial Access Initiative Blog, Timothy Ogden discusses recent developments in the area of cash transfer programs. After offering an introductory overview on common perceptions of physical cash in the development and financial inclusion contexts, Ogden contends that the advent in recent years of conditional cash transfer programs as well as program evaluations have increased support for cash transfers on the whole. The post cites two recently published cash transfer studies, and includes a Q&A with Chris Blattman, who is an author on both.
  • “I believe in the inevitability of mobile money, but I don’t believe we’re getting there very fast,” Ignacio Mas states in a recent CGAP Blog post. In this post on mobile money and why its successes are disappointingly slow and isolated, Ignacio tables the limitedly optimistic popular mobile money dialogue to examine barriers to industry growth, on both the demand and supply sides. Among the points made, Ignacio posits that mobile money programs don’t fit within telcos’ long-established decision models, that the services run counter to banks’ traditional attitudes and approaches to client touch-points, and that users largely do not see their mobiles as a store of value or as an expense management tool, but just as one payment instrument.
  • Following this week’s re-brand of their preceding blog, the new IFMR Research Blog has published a number of posts, including “Why do Indians buy gold?” India has one of the largest markets for gold and gold loans. The post, written by Misha Sharma, explores the country’s steadfast relationship with the precious metal, as a commodity and as a cultural fixture. Cited in the post is a recent IFMR Center for Microfinance (CFM) study on the characteristics and behaviors of India’s gold loan market stakeholders, which uncovered that 20 percent of Indians save in the form of gold, and that 31 percent of Indians buy gold for use during emergency situations.

Image credit: Ianf