For the policymaker looking to improve services and the delivery of benefits, or for the financial institution trying to expand its customer base, the gap between technical solutions and the situation of the average technology user represents fertile ground for the many new opportunities that the digital economy provides.
CGD Policy Blogs
Digital identification has become a focus for development policies and programs, and not a moment too soon. Identification Revolution: Can Digital ID be Harnessed for Development considers where these trends are heading.
These recent developments in identification, combined with rising mobile phone ownership, broadening Internet access, and innovative payment delivery mechanisms, can be harnessed to transform the way states implement poverty-reduction programs and improve the lives of their citizens. Digital payments promise faster, more transparent, and lower-cost delivery for existing cash-based government transfers, and can also transform the way governments deliver subsidies. In a new background paper, Dan Radcliffe reviews the evidence on the gains from digital payments and pinpoints four ways in which they can improve development outcomes.
Biometric voter registration and verification technology is rapidly becoming a staple of elections in the developing world, but where and how will this technology be most efficiently deployed?
Poor regulation is a key obstacle to financial inclusion. An enabling regulatory environment is critical for creating incentives for businesses to offer innovative financial services to the poor, and for underserved customers to take up formal financial services.
In the wake of Zimbabwe’s disputed reelection of Robert Mugabe, it is alleged that dead voters accounted for one-third of the voter rolls, that 63 constituencies had more registered voters than actual inhabitants even though 2 million potential voters under 30 went unregistered. The elections have left many asking if biometrics are the future of voting.
The “identity gap” is large, but it’s closing. Over the past 10 years, developing countries from Afghanistan to Zambia—and the donors that support them—have begun to focus on identity systems. Some have sought to create or extend national identification to cover large populations that previously could not exercise basic rights or access services due to a lack of official documentation. Others have reformed government and NGO programs by creating robust identification to improve quality, increase accessibility and eliminate fraud.
Being able to prove who you are is a powerful tool that can serve as a basis for exercising rights like voting, accessing financial services and receiving transfers, and reducing fraud. Yet billions of people in the developing world lack a means to officially identify themselves. In this week’s Wonkcast, Alan Gelb and Julia Clark draw from their ongoing research on biometric technology and development to explain how developing country governments and donors can tap advances in biometrics to help empower poor people.
Electric power has been restored across northern India to the 600 million people who recently found themselves sweltering in the dark. But the massive blackouts have left lingering questions about the country’s ability to provide the infrastructure necessary to sustained growth and poverty reduction.
When a poor country finds oil, bad things often get worse. Countries rich in extractable natural resources, especially oil, frequently suffer from crummy governance, high poverty, endemic corruption and conflict. Is it possible to beat this oil curse? My guest on the Wonkcast this week, Todd Moss, CGD vice president for programs and senior fellow, says yes. He argues that a government that transfers some or all of its oil revenue to citizens in a universal, transparent, and regular taxable payment, could strengthen the social contract, fight corruption, and lay the foundation for future prosperity.