Digital Solutions Can Help Even the Poorest Nations Prosper
Fast economic growth is the best way to reduce poverty. A recent Tufts University study found that digitization is one of the biggest drivers of a nation’s economic success. The report argues that that economic growth is mostly achieved by careful policy-setting—in other words, it’s best driven by government.
Of 60 countries the report measured, Bangladesh received the lowest score for its digital technologies. But the south Asian nation has no intention of staying in last place: It is in eighth place in the world for the pace of its technological advancement. That’s because of an ambitious approach to the digital economy.
Read the full piece, featuring our Digital Planet work, in WIRED
Originally post on the Fletcher admissions blog, a home for lots of great content from the Fletcher community!!
At one point during my first year at Fletcher, someone told me that, in the end, everything was going to be o.k. Everyone will do something during the summer break, be it an internship, research, writing, or catching up with old friends and family for two or three months. As much as I wanted to believe that, I couldn’t help but get a little nervous when it was a couple of weeks after the last final of the spring semester, summer had officially started, and there was still no official offer letter for a summer internship. I even flew back home to Indonesia, not knowing whether I was going to intern at all during the next few months, or just plain relax (or maybe start writing my capstone).
Adi (in the red shirt) and the CCB team at Citi Indonesia
Then the moment I had been waiting for finally arrived. I was offered a spot in the Global Consumer Summer Associate batch at Citigroup’s Jakarta office. While extremely relieved, I also came to realize that now the hard work would start. This would be my first exposure to working at a global corporation, first time at a financial institution, in an industry far away from my previous professional background. I was put on the Commercial Lending team. My role was to support the business analysis and marketing staff in the division. My main deliverable was an official guide for new employees of Citi Commercial Bank (CCB). This meant that I had to learn how CCB operates, understand the complete business process down to the individual roles of each person on the team, and package all this information into a guidebook that would be easily digestible to a newcomer.
by Raunak Mittal (MALD 2018)
Demonetization, a bold move executed by the current government in India took everyone by surprise. Good or bad, it is one of the biggest policy decision taken by an economy as large as India in the recent past. The aspects that interest me in this big policy decision are the effects of this move towards the digitization of finance, including digital payments and alternative lending.
There has been a focus on alternative modes of credit lending ,not just in developing economies but also in the developed economies like the US. As part of my ongoing research, I had the opportunity to talk with the founders and leaders of alternative lending startups like Numerated, DistilledAnalytics, Branch.co and Entrepreneurial Finance Lab in the US. However, for getting a closer look on what is happening in India post the biggest strike on cash, I continued my research with the help of IBGC by visiting India during in August 2017. My research plan was two-fold: to meet startups that are operating in the space of digital finance or alternative lending; and to observe the change in people’s behavior in dealing with day-to-day transactions nine months post-demonetization.
Wiping out 86 per cent of a country’s currency is rarely a “good start” on anything. In a country where, according to recent analyses of income-tax probes, the cash component of undeclared wealth is estimated to be only about six per cent, leaving an economy virtually cashless is certainly not a good place to end up. If Thaler had studied the data on the Indian economy he might have realised that the policy instrument he had supported was aimed at the wrong target: The currency of corruption is mostly in non-cash assets.
Read the full piece from Dean Chakravorti in The Indian Express
Will the US Get Left in the Digital Dust?
“We identified many hot spots around the world where these changes are happening rapidly and other spots where momentum has slowed,” the authors of the Digital Evolution Index said. “Two years on, depending on where we live, we continue to move at different speeds toward the digital planet.”
Read the full piece on DEI 17, featuring quotes from Dean Chakravorti in VOA News
Britain’s Digital Advantage
No wonder then that there is much anxiety among Brexit-watchers about the UK making a clean break and rejecting the ‘four freedoms’ that EU members enjoy − free movement of people, goods, capital and services. I would argue that there is a fifth freedom that negotiators ought to keep in their sights, one that may hold the key to re-balancing the terms of Brexit. This freedom has to do with the free movement of data.
Data matters because it is the fuel − and exhaust − of a critical part of the overall economy: the digital economy.
When one considers the digital economies of the UK and that of the EU, the latter would be losing a genuine star if barriers to UK-EU data flows were to be erected.
Read the full piece from Dean Chakravorti on the Chatham House website
by Kim Wilson, CEME Senior Fellow
Posted originally by the Center for Financial Inclusion
How do refugees finance their journeys and which expenses need financing? This was the question that a team of us at Fletcher set out to answer in our study “The Financial Journey of Refugees.” We studied the routes and financial challenges of more than 100 refugees in Greece, Jordan and Turkey, between July 2016 and April 2017. The refugees we interviewed had traveled from South Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, East Africa and West Africa.
Regardless of their country of origin, with the exception of Syria, a refugee’s biggest expense was the cost of hiring a smuggler. Smuggling expenses ran about 85 percent of the total cost of the journey. The smuggler’s fee included important services: travel by air or overland, depending on the refugee’s budget, guide services across borders, payment of bribes at border crossings, and documentation falsification expenses. Smuggling prices varied widely by country of origin (some borders being porous, others sealed tight), by how deluxe a trip was (air versus ground), by numbers of borders crossed (affecting the number of falsified IDs required). To give an example, journeying overland from Afghanistan through Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey to Greece might cost $7,500 per person, a price that went up or down based on shifting rules and border crackdowns. Traveling from Eritrea to Greece might cost the same amount. Traveling from Syria to Turkey could cost as little as $500.
The price of the journey was one factor in a traveler’s safety – the higher the cost, the better the traveling modes, and the safer the travel. While what refugees paid their smuggler was important, how they paid them was equally important. Did the refugee pre-pay the kingpin smuggler in advance of the journey? Did she post-pay him after arriving safely in Greece or Germany? Did she pay leg by leg? All these strategies were in play and we outline them in our report summary and they are detailed by the refugees themselves in a Compendium of Field Notes. Below we describe two of many strategies.
Strategy 1: Guarantee Scheme via a Financial Third Party