> Posted by Sonja E. Kelly, Fellow, CFI

I want to let you in on a secret: the best part of the Global Microscope 2015 is a hidden gem. It’s called the Microscope Benchmarking Model (admittedly it might benefit from a better name), and it provides a user-friendly deep-dive into each country and indicator. With this tool, you can go beyond the report, with insights on questions that we may have neglected to cover in the narrative. And you can slice and dice the data to your heart’s content.

For example, where is the best place to be an insurance provider if you want to work with low-income populations? It’s India, actually, with Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Brazil, and the Philippines following. With two quick steps, the tool produced this map for me (click to enlarge):


The countries colored in red—including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Paraguay, and Tajikistan—are the worst places to be an insurance provider working with low-income populations.

So why is India the best?

On the map, I can click on India to see why it received its scores. Once I do, I see that the research team records that in India, specific regulation for insurance targeting low income populations exists, is comprehensive, and has been fully implemented. More detail follows—the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority has defined microinsurance as a life or general insurance policy with a maximum sum insured of Rs50,000 (US$800). The Microinsurance Regulation Act was passed by India’s parliament in 2005, and allows specific entities to act as agents for distribution of microinsurance. Some restrictions on the product features, argue critics, may affect uptake by the target population, and this concern is noted in the paragraph describing why India received the score it did. If this is not enough information, there are three references cited, through which users can go even deeper.

There are seemingly endless combinations of questions the tool can address. How, for example, does South Africa’s environment for financial inclusion compare with Brazil’s? (Answer: Brazil has a better overall score, but South Africa fares better on prudential regulation, requirements for non-regulated lenders, and credit reporting systems) Where are the best market conduct rules? (Answer: Bolivia and Peru) Which governments have the best technical capacity to supervise financial inclusion? (Answer: Peru and the Philippines) Where are the documented strategies on financial inclusion? (Answer: Many countries have strategies, including Rwanda, Tanzania, and Pakistan)

I’ll let you explore the Benchmarking Model on your own, but since I started with a secret I thought I would end this post with a confession: this tool knows far more about the environment for financial inclusion than I do. And I am about to defend my dissertation on financial inclusion policy and regulation. There is a high likelihood that if you asked me about policies or regulations in a particular country in the past year, I slyly clicked through the tool so that I could answer your question. I give you full permission to use the tool to position yourself as an expert on the environment for financial inclusion. Just give the Global Microscope credit when you become famous for your insights, ok?

P.S. If you have a better name that will drive traffic to the tool, or if you come up with a brilliant insight that you want to share, feel free to use the comments section below.

Have you read?

Global Microscope 2015: Progress on the Financial Inclusion Front

What’s Insurance Got to Do With It?

Financial Inclusion Data: Taking Stock