MFR at European Research Conference on Microfinance 2019

Lucia Spaggiari, MFR Business Development Director, will participate in the 6th edition of the European Research Conference on Microfinance during June 3 – 5 in Paris, France. She will share information on the Data Platform with the financial inclusion researchers attending the conference. Data Platform is a new initiative centralizing data on pricing, client protection, social and financial perofrmance of Financial Service Providers.

The 2019 edition of the European Research Conference on Microfinance, entitled “New Tools, New Actors: Which aims, values and beneficiaries?“, will focus on the challenges of industrialization and massification, which have been fuelled by the increasing use of new technologies as supposedly efficient instruments for fostering financial inclusion worldwide. These new technologies have brought unprecedented opportunities, including cost reduction and the penetration of isolated areas. But they also present unparalleled risks, including issues of privacy, the use of big data for commercial purposes, and a loss of face-to-face relationships.

The spectrum of financial inclusion has also been observably widening. It now associates public transfers with various basic services such as water, sanitation and health. Given the massification and diversification of supply, it’s crucial to consider what the underlying missions and objectives may be. Is it a matter of facilitating access to a wide range of appropriate, affordable tools, or of turning poor people into consumers? Is it about creating inclusion, whether for marginalized individuals, populations or territories, or about the financialization of marginalized population segments? Is it to champion the construction of welfare states, or to contribute to their erosion? Is it about creating, redistributing or capturing new forms of wealth, and if so, who benefits from it?

The goal is not to be able to claim to have found an unambiguous answer, something which would be futile in the light of the diversity of models and contexts. It is rather to encourage researchers, students and professionals in the sector to question and debate the meaning and values underlying their research and practices.