Our research agenda is out! How would you tackle these big, unanswered questions in financial inclusion?

> Posted by Tess Johnson, Research Associate, CFI

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! We are thrilled to announce that we are now accepting proposals for the 2018 cohort of CFI Fellows.

Building upon the impact of the CFI Fellows Program over the past three years, we’re looking for proposals from researchers and practitioners with demonstrated experience executing high-quality research projects from start to finish. Successful proposals will articulate a thoughtful and feasible response to one of the questions in our research agenda. This year’s research agenda reflects an exhaustive consultative process, and thanks to your help, we’ll be selecting proposals that best address one of the following topics:

  1. How do financial institutions use mass APIs, open APIs, custom APIs and bespoke partnerships to partner effectively with fintechs to reach the underserved? 

Financial institutions of all sizes are finding that partnerships with fintechs can help them reach underserved customer segments, and increasingly, these partnerships use APIs to create the necessary connections that enable data sharing between fintechs and financial institutions. However, it may be especially challenging for smaller financial institutions to benefit from such connections. How do recent efforts to create more accessible APIs function? Which models are working well? Research should include a comparison between mass APIs, API marketplaces, open APIs, bespoke APIs, and custom partnerships, recognizing that there are opportunities and challenges associated with each.

  1. How do electronic invoicing (e-invoicing) and other electronic filing mandates enable financial services providers to make better decisions about MSME lending? Have more MSMEs become financially included as a result of these efforts?

We’ve seen that e-invoicing is being mandated by governments across Latin America and in selected other countries as a tax compliance initiative (KPMG, 2017) and we expect that this practice may have spillover effects for financial inclusion. Through the collection and analysis of rich transaction data from micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that electronic invoicing provides, lenders are finding new ways of assessing this customer segment. This research will identify which providers are leveraging this data to improve their lending operations for MSMEs and through what means.

  1. How can employers in developing countries support the financial health of their employees?

Financial health is an increasingly important concept in the financial inclusion ecosystem, but we find that one often overlooked set of actors is employers. Employers have an important stake in the financial health of their employees, as financial challenges can create stress, absenteeism and other problems. This fellowship will explore the research on financial stress and employment to better articulate why employers in emerging markets should care about financial health, the interest of employers in active involvement, examples of good practice and/or tools or resources that employers need to get involved.

  1. What is the landscape of financial products and services designed to meet previously underserved consumers’ (physical) health needs?

This fellowship will review the current status of health finance initiatives in the developing world or in a region or set of countries. It will identify and analyze the key challenges that existing programs encounter, with reference to the most successful models.

If you are passionate about financial inclusion, can craft a high-quality research plan that demonstrates a thoughtful approach, and have relevant experience in producing impactful analytic work, we want you to submit a proposal or share this opportunity with a colleague.

For more information (or inspiration), visit our website, view the full request for proposals, or email Tess Johnson. We can’t wait to see how you tackle these questions!

Image credit: Accion