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Financial Innovation

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Submitted By smaity
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What is Financial Innovation? Financial innovation can be defined as the act of creating and then popularizing new financial instruments as well as new financial technologies, institutions and markets. It includes institutional, product and process innovation.
Why do we need financial Innovation?
Finance is the lifeblood of the world economy that affects every other sector and in turn is affected by every other sector. A Simple Financial Innovation like a debit card can lift millions of people out of poverty and connect them to the global economy. It helps entrepreneurs raise money for the next idea. In the coming few pages I shall attempt to discuss few financial innovation and how they have affected the global economy.
Microfinance

Microfinance is a source of financial services for entrepreneurs and small businesses lacking access to banking and related services. Microfinance is a broad category of services, which includes microcredit. Microcredit is provision of credit services to poor clients. Microcredit has enjoyed spectacular success in poor nations like Grameen Bank in Bangladesh and SKS Microfinance in India.

What is Microcredit?
Much of the current interest in microcredit stems from the Microcredit Summit (2-4 February 1997), and the activities that went into organizing the event. The definition of microcredit that was adopted there was: Microcredit programmers extend small loans to very poor people for self-employment projects that generate income, allowing them to care for themselves and their families.
Definitions differ, of course, from country to country. Some of the defining criteria used include- size – loans are micro, or very small in size target users – microenterpreneurs and low-income households utilization – the use of funds – for income generation, and enterprise development, but also for community use (health/education) etc. terms and conditions – most terms and conditions for microcredit loans are flexible and easy to understand, and suited to the local conditions of the community.
Source: http://www.grameen-info.org/
Grameen Bank
The origin of Grameen Bank can be traced back to 1976 when Professor Muhammad Yunus, Head of the Rural Economics Program at the University of Chittagong, launched an action research project to examine the possibility of designing a system to provide banking services targeted at the rural poor. The Grameen Bank Project (Grameen means “rural” or “village” in Bangla language) came into operation with the following objectives:
1. Extend banking facilities to poor men and women;
2. Eliminate the exploitation of the poor by money lenders;
3. Create opportunities for self-employment for the vast multitude of unemployed people in rural Bangladesh;
4. Bring the disadvantaged, mostly the women from the poorest households, within the fold of an organizational format which they can understand and manage by themselves;
5. Reverse the age-old vicious circle of “low income, low saving & low investment”, into virtuous circle of “low income, injection of credit, investment, more income, more savings, more investment, more income”.

The action research demonstrated its strength in Jobra (a village adjacent to Chittagong University) and some of the neighboring villages during 1976-1979. With the sponsorship of the central bank of the country and support of the nationalized commercial banks, the project was extended to Tangail district (a district north of Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh) in 1979. With the success in Tangail, the project was extended to several other districts in the country. In October 1983, the Grameen Bank Project was transformed into an independent bank by government legislation. Today Grameen Bank is owned by the rural poor whom it serves. Borrowers of the Bank own 90% of its shares, while the remaining 10% is owned by the government.
Muhammad Yunus earned a doctorate in economics from Vanderbilt University in the United States. He was inspired during the Bangladesh famine of 1974 to make a small loan of US$27 to a group of 42 families as start-up money so that they could make items for sale, without the burdens of high interest under predatory lending. Yunus believed that making such loans available to a larger population could stimulate businesses and reduce the widespread rural poverty in Bangladesh.

Yunus developed the principles of the Grameen Bank (literally, “Bank of the Villages” in Bengali) from his research and experience. He began to expand microcredit as a research project together with the Rural Economics Project at Bangladesh’s University of Chittagong to test his method for providing credit and banking services to the rural poor. In 1976, the village of Jobra and other villages near the University of Chittagong became the first areas eligible for service from Grameen Bank. Proving successful, the Bank project, with support from Bangladesh Bank, was extended in 1979 to the Tangail District (to the north of the capital, Dhaka). The bank’s success continued and its services were extended to other districts of Bangladesh.

By a Bangladeshi government ordinance on October 2, 1983, the project was authorized and established as an independent bank. Bankers Ron Grzywinski and Mary Houghton of ShoreBank, a community development bank in Chicago, helped Yunus with the official incorporation of the bank under a grant from the Ford Foundation. The bank’s repayment rate suffered from the economic disruption following the 1998 flood in Bangladesh, but it recovered in the subsequent years. By the beginning of 2005, the bank had loaned over USD 4.7 billion and by the end of 2008, USD 7.6 billion to the poor.

The Bank continues to expand across the nation. By 2006, Grameen Bank branches numbered over 2,100. Its success has inspired similar projects in more than 40 countries around the world, including a World Bank initiative to finance Grameen-type schemes.

The bank has gained its funding from different sources, and the main contributors have shifted over time. In the initial years, donor agencies used to provide the bulk of capital at low rates. By the mid-1990s, the bank started to get most of its funding from the central bank of Bangladesh. More recently, Grameen has started bond sales as a source of finance. The bonds are implicitly subsidised, as they are guaranteed by the Government of Bangladesh, and still they are sold above the bank rate. In 2013, Bangladesh parliament passed ‘Grameen Bank Act’ which replaces the Grameen Bank Ordinance, 1983, authorizing the government to make rules for any aspect of the running of the bank.
The bank is also engaged in social business and entrepreneurship fields. In 2009, the Grameen Creative Lab collaborated with the Yunus Centre to create the Global Social Business Summit. The meeting has become the main platform for social businesses worldwide to foster discussions, actions and collaborations to develop effective solutions to the most pressing problems plaguing the world.

Payments Bank

Reserve Bank of India has granted licenses to 11 Applicants to start payments bank in the near future. A good mix of entities have chosen from commercial , technical and telecommunications industries have been chosen to enhance financial inclusion in India. Integration of telecommunication sector in the payment bank architecture is important because of the wide distribution network they already own.
Payments will function in the same way as normal banks in that they can take deposits from their customers with certain restrictions being placed on the deposit amounts. This innovation is poised to shake up the banking sector in India while also bringing a large percentage of the people with the global economy.

Why do we need Financial Inclusion?
As we have seen in the last years that we have scenario where farmers are committing suicide because they have taken credit with large interest rates from unofficial moneylenders. It has been said that poor receive only a small fraction of the money that is earmarked for them under the various government schemes. Financial Innovation like payments bank will open up new lines of credit for them.

Inadequate, inaccessible financial services is undoubtedly one of the reasons why the poor are trapped in poverty. Without access to finance, the poor people cannot invest in tools to increase productivity, start a microenterprise, invest in education or health, or even take time to search for better opportunities. In addition, monetary exchanges require a physical location and people need transportation to get to the location, both of which can be problematic in infrastructure-constrained countries such as Kenya, particularly in rural areas.

There are plenty of advantages that payment banks can offer in India. According to recent report on The Economic Times, the payments banks are likely to add Rs. 14 trillion in incremental credit for infrastructure sector alone. It is being touted that, the payment banks will help improve last mile connectivity especially in the rural hinterlands.

The second most important thing that analysts are pegging will happen due to the coming of payment banks is that the service standards are likely to go up and transaction costs will come down, due to the competition in the space. Another thing to look forward to with the payment banks are reforms in the social welfare sector and subsidy schemes. The inclusion of Indian Post in this list of payment banks is likely to play a big role in this step.
Vodafone M-Pesa in Kenya
Developed by Vodafone and launched commercially by the company’s Kenyan affiliate Safaricom, M-PESA is a small-value (all transactions are capped at $500) electronic payment and store of value system accessible from ordinary mobile phones. Once customers have an M-PESA account, they can use their phones to transfer funds to both M-PESA users and non-users, pay bills, and purchase mobile airtime credit for a small, flat, per-transaction fee. The affordability of the service has been key in opening the door to formal financial services for Kenya’s poor.
Since its introduction in mid-2007, M-PESA had been adopted by 9 million customers as of late 2009—40 percent of Kenya’s adult population—and is now facilitating an average of $320 million per month in person-to-person transfers (roughly 10 percent of Kenya’s GDP on an annualized basis). Extremely rapid uptake of M-PESA is a strong vote of confidence by local users in a new technology as well as an indication of significant latent demand for remittance services. In recent months, M-PESA has begun allowing institutional payments, enabling companies to pay salaries and collect bill payments.

Source:- http://www.grameen-info.org/ (For Info related to Grameen Bank and Microcredit) http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/ (For Info Related to Payments Bank) http://go.worldbank.org/XSGEPAIMO0 (For Info related to Vodafone M-Pesa in Kenya)

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