MoneyGram acquisition helps Alibaba Group go global, but will it lower remittance fees?

Globally, more than $580 billion is remitted by migrants to their home countries, 75 percent to developing countries. Alibaba Group’s acquisition of MoneyGram — the second-largest money transfer service worldwide — may help bring the expensive transfers world into the era of mobile and online money. The acquisition gives Alibaba’s online payments processor, Ant Financial, access to MoneyGram’s 200-plus international

Direct cash transfers show promise as anti-poverty tool

The evidence base is growing for the effectiveness of giving cash directly to the poor. A new report from Britain’s Independent Commission on Aid Impact (ICAI) found the U.K.’s cash transfer programs delivered “increasing incomes and consumption levels for the poorest households, with modest but positive effects on savings, asset accumulation and debt reduction.” In East

Move over microfinance. Mobile money is touted as the new magic bullet

Nearly four in every 10 dollars from impact funds targeting emerging markets in 2015 went to microfinance, but access to small amounts of credit hasn’t been the panacea for poverty that was promised. Fuller access to a variety of financial services enabled through mobile phones, is the future, says Kusi Hornberger, a vice president at

What do you get when you cross Bitcoin and MPesa?

Kenya’s BitPesa raised $2.5 million in financing from Silicon Valley investor Tim Draper’s Draper VC, Greycroft Partners, and numerous existing investors. MPesa, of course, is Kenya’s wildly successful mobile money service. BitPesa can make financial transactions, particularly international remittances, cheaper and more accessible by using bitcoins, which the service then exchanges into local currencies for deposit

Want social mobility? Go to a state university

Cal State Los Angeles and SUNY Stonybrook had the highest “mobility rate” in a new study by the Equality of Opportunity Project. The study of 30 million college students tracked the likelihood that a student from a lower-income family ends up in a higher-income family. Pace University in New York was the rare private school

Move over fintech. Human agents drive financial inclusion

Technology is helping give more people access to payment, saving, loan and investment services. But Greta Bull, head of the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, says the real game changer is distribution. The key to M-Pesa’s mobile payments system, for example, is its network of agents who allow customers to convert cash to digital

Using Cell Phone Data to Establish Credit Scores in Latin America

First-time borrowers face a classic chicken or the egg dilemma: a borrower needs a good credit score to get a loan but needs a track record of repaying loans to establish a good credit score. Increasingly though, another, more ubiquitous measure of creditworthiness is all consumers will need: their cell phone data. In Latin America, for