ISSER to launch new flagship research initiative on digital finance retail distribution networks in LMICs

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The Institute for Social and Economic Statistical Research (ISSER) of the University of Ghana, with
support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is about to launch a new research initiative on
policies and incentives to deepen digital finance retail distribution networks in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

The initiative will catalyze collaborations between researchers, policymakers and financial service providers to experiment with practical solutions to extend the reach of mobile money and agent banking networks that are essential for connecting low-income households. , women and vulnerable populations to formal financial services.

The initiative will support projects in Asia and Africa in a way that promotes genuine collaboration between researchers from the South and the North.

Despite strong evidence demonstrating the essential role of agent networks in financial conduct
inclusion for underbanked populations, data from PRFIs suggest that agent networks remain fairly sparse
especially in the poorest peri-urban and rural areas.

The initiative aims to demonstrate both a) how to effectively extend the reach of agent networks through public policies and business solutions that can plausibly be scaled; and b) how to advance public knowledge of the structural constraints limiting agent networks globally.

To achieve the objectives of the project, the ISSER will facilitate partnerships between political decision-makers,
digital financial service providers and researchers, and fund pilot and large-scale research projects.
Funding will target rigorous, high-impact research projects with potential for publication in a high
impact reviews on the economy, development and management, and relevance to inform practices
large-scale real-world solutions.

Priority will be given to projects that explore financial incentives such as subsidies, relevant regulations, and other institutional arrangements that impact agent density, as well as those that intentionally aim to focus on the role of networks. agents in women’s access to digital financial services. ISSER staff will support the dissemination of research results through the publication of policy briefs, the organization of meetings and other activities designed to inform policy and practice.

The research initiative will support qualified researchers from around the world working on projects defined in
PRFI in Africa and Asia. Connect researchers from the North and the South and
fostering direct South-South partnerships is at the heart of ISSER’s vision for the initiative, which aims to
broaden the representation of researchers from developing countries in development research and
poverty reduction.

The ISSER will launch the new initiative, ‘Policies and Incentives to Deepen Digital Finance Retail
Distribution networks in LMICs ”in the first half of 2022 with a launch event and the issuance of the first
calls for tenders (RFP) for pilot studies and experimental research.


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