Can having access to bank accounts, participating in financial literacy training and receiving SMS reminders increase savings and empower women to have a greater say in household finances? This seminar will discuss one of the first large-scale randomised control trials in the Pacific, in partnership with the Bank of Papua New Guinea. Half of the 80 villages in Wewak district, East Sepik province, were randomly assigned to receive a comprehensive financial inclusion program. The program was quite popular with 25 per cent of adults in treatment wards attending training and 70 per cent of participants opening bank accounts (more than half of which previously did not own a bank account). However, more than 80 per cent of bank accounts were never used and the researchers found no evidence of the program having a lasting impact. These results draw into question the value of efforts around the developing world to ‘bank the unbanked’.
Christopher Hoy in the final year of his PhD in economics at Crawford School of Public Policy. He has more than a decade of experience in the international development sector as an economist, including with the Overseas Development Institute, UNICEF Uganda, the Australian aid program and the Australian Treasury.