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Assessing the Impact of Digitally-Enabled Microcredit for Smallholder Farmers: Findings from the A-Card pilot initiative

mSTAR/Bangladesh, working with the Agriculture Extension Support Activity (AESA) led by Dhaka Ahsania Mission (DAM), conducted pre- and post-assessments in Faridpur district to understand the impact that a micro-credit product (called A-Card) delivered to smallholder farmers through Bank Asia’s agent banking had on participating farmers, associated ag-input retailers, and other relevant stakeholders, as well as to understand what further action can be taken to improve uptake of these services.

Understanding Mobile-Enabled Agri-Credit Adoption Among Rice Farmers

The mSTAR/Bangladesh project, working with the Rice Value Chain (RVC) Project led by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), conducted pre- and post-assessments in Jessore and Satkhira to understand the benefits, challenges and overall experience of farmers who adopted an agri-credit product delivered via IFIC Mobile Banking. This product provided loans for agricultural inputs to smallholder farmers amounting to BDT 10,000 (US $125) with a six-month repayment period.

Opportunities for Digital Financial Services for Agricultural Mechanization in Bangladesh: A Market Landscape Assessment

The mSTAR/Bangladesh project, working with the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia - Mechanization and Irrigation (CSISA-MI) project, conducted an assessment in six districts of southwest Bangladesh to look at opportunities for digital financial services integration in agricultural mechanization services. This included an examination of potential financial products that could be proposed to financial institutions for creating opportunities for mechanization service providers and users to access financial support through digital channels.

Workshop on Digital Payments for AIRN Members through Agent Banking

mSTAR/Bangladesh received a technical assistance request from the Agro-Inputs Retailers Network (AIRN), which is supported by USAID’s Agro-Inputs Project, in February 2017 to support them to explore DFS adoption among AIRN members. In connection with that request, mSTAR/B conducted two technical workshops for AIRN members in March 2017 about using agent banking for digital payments. Md. Ataur Rahman, mSTAR/B Team Lead, facilitated the workshop sessions.

mSTAR/Bangladesh: Technical Assistance to IRRI Bangladesh

The Rice Value Chain (RVC) project is a 15-month pilot project run by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Bangladesh to support the private sector with the goal of improving the efficiency of the rice value chain. RVC is working through eight partners and the intervention areas are mostly in the south and southwest of Bangladesh.

The Potential of Using Digital Financial Services for Savings Groups in Bangladesh

The primary goal of this assessment was to increase understanding of the structure of savings groups in Bangladesh, which are mainly represented by lower-income populations, as well as the financial behavior (both savings and expenses) of members of those savings groups, in order to identify opportunities that may exist for leveraging digital financial services. The assessment looked into the challenges facing different savings groups with regards to cash management, required level of effort to manage a savings group (cost and time), literacy, and exposure to financial services.

Mobile Money Integration Assessment for SPRING Project

The mSTAR team received a request from the SPRING project on May 31, 2015, to investigate the scope of integrating mobile money in their project. The mSTAR team conducted a scoping study covering SPRING’s Khulna field office to: i) Map the transaction flow between SPRING’s Khulna divisional office and Upazilla Coordinators (UCs); and, ii) Conduct a cost-benefit analysis of integrating mobile money into government training programs organized by UCs.

Mobile Money Integration Assessment for Agro-Inputs Project

The mSTAR team received a request from the Agro-Inputs Project (AIP) on April 29, 2015, to investigate the scope of integrating mobile money in their project. The mSTAR team conducted a scoping study covering AIP Khulna field office, members of the Agro-Input Retailers’ Network (AIRN) and farmers in order to: i) Understand the financial behavior of wholesalers, retailers, and farmers during peak and off-peak season. ii) Map the transaction flow between wholesalers, retailers, and farmers during peak and off-peak season.

The Transition Benefit: From Cash to Mobile Financial Services in the Aponjon Initiative, Bangladesh

This assessment was conducted to systematically understand the benefit of transitioning from cash to mobile financial services (MFS), under an mHealth initiative for expectant and new mothers (branded as Aponjon), which is run by Dnet in Bangladesh. The transition was made with an expectation of efficiency gains in Aponjon’s incentive payment system to Aponjon agents at the community level, which are provided to them for customer acquisitions that they make.

Bangladesh Portfolio Assessment

The mobile banking market in Bangladesh has seen rapid growth in recent years. However, significant progress still needs to be made before Bangladesh’s poor can fully realize the benefits of mobile banking. One area that promises significant near term opportunities to serve the needs of these groups is in government-sponsored payments. By utilizing mobile money or e-payment mechanisms, inefficiencies associated with disbursements can be reduced.