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Electronic Transfers of Public Subsidies to Bank Accounts (Chile Cuenta)
Last registered on January 03, 2019


Trial Information
General Information
Electronic Transfers of Public Subsidies to Bank Accounts (Chile Cuenta)
Initial registration date
March 24, 2017
Last updated
January 03, 2019 8:06 PM EST
Primary Investigator
Universidad de Chile
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
PI Affiliation
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Additional Trial Information
On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Many beneficiaries of social welfare programs around the world receive benefits in cash or by check. Can distributing welfare benefits through electronic transfers directly into bank accounts help low-income individuals enter the formal financial sector? We evaluate how transitioning a social welfare program from cash distribution to electronic transfers impacts recipients’ access to their funds, as well as their savings, debt and subjective well-being.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
A., Claudia, Abhijit Banerjee and Esteban Puentes. 2019. "Electronic Transfers of Public Subsidies to Bank Accounts (Chile Cuenta)." AEA RCT Registry. January 03. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.2081-2.0.
Former Citation
A., Claudia et al. 2019. "Electronic Transfers of Public Subsidies to Bank Accounts (Chile Cuenta)." AEA RCT Registry. January 03. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/2081/history/39917.
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Experimental Details
We evaluate a financial inclusion intervention in Chile. The intervention consist in offering an electronic payment of subsides to families of the main anti-poverty program in Chile (Programa Puente). We use bank accounts of BancoEstado (the only estate-owned commercial bank in the country) and compare this offering with the usual form of payment which is done through checks.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Savings, Debt, Consumption
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The Chilean Ministry of Social Development, which runs the Puente social welfare program, is working with Banco del Estado, a state-owned but independently run bank, to electronically deposit social welfare payments into beneficiaries’ bank accounts. As the program rolled out, researchers randomly selected 3,232 Puente beneficiaries in Santiago to participate in the study. Three quarters of these beneficiaries were randomly selected to receive an offer for a bank account and direct deposit of their welfare payments into the account. The remaining beneficiaries continued to receive their payments by check, serving as a comparison group.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
The randomization was made at an individual level. The stratification variables were (1) age of the beneficiary, (2) score in the social security card, (3) time they have been participating in the program and (4) municipality.
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
3,232 families
Sample size: planned number of observations
3,232 families
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
810 control; 2,422 treatment (total 3,232)

Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB Name
Comittee on the use of Humans as Experimental Subjects
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number