The intervention will be integrated as a component of the larger Proyecto Capital program in Colombia, which seeks the financial inclusion of millions of poor households by working through CCT programs in Latin America and the Caribbean. In Colombia, the Departamento para la Prosperidad Social (DPS) manages the Más Familias en Acción (MFA) program, which reaches 3 million poor and extremely poor individuals and their families. This includes households that rank lower than established thresholds on the national poverty index (SISBEN), families in extreme poverty (those belonging to the Red Unidos initiative), and victims of displacement caused by Colombia’s internal armed conflict. Given the program’s credibility and dedicated resources, opportunities exist for supplemental interventions that would enable transfer recipients to make better use of the funds.
The intervention to be evaluated is based on the LISTA application and accompanying distribution methodology developed by Fundación Capital. The tablet application was developed for use without the help of a trainer or facilitator, providing an interactive experience. The application does not require Internet access to function and can thus reach low-income users even in the most rural areas. By integrating audio, video, and gaming elements, the didactic application overcomes literacy barriers, providing an entertaining educational experience, while empowering women through technology.
Users choose when to use the tablet, the order in which they access the training topics (modules), and the time they spend on each, revisiting if they choose topics that were unclear. Audiovisual features also facilitate training for illiterate users. Interactive features and user-centric design enables identification with the application and stimulates participation.
There are games and exercises incorporated into all of the training elements along five educational modules:
(1) ABCs of Savings: provides educational content and information on topics such as savings and insurance, with testimonial videos and illustrative stories, all with the objective of increasing financial capabilities and helping users make informed financial decisions.
(2) Managing my Money: helps users organize their income and expenses and allows them to visualize their savings and debt, with the goal of preventing over-indebtedness.
(3) My Bank: provides information about financial products in general, but also with specific information about the savings accounts and mobile wallets cash transfer recipients already have access to, in order to encourage their use.
(4) Games: this module includes several ATM and mobile wallet simulators, users can gain confidence in using the real thing, and also includes games that they can play individually or in groups, which help them review important concepts and rules of thumb.
(5) Más Familias en Acción module: the objective is to clarify how the program works, how cash transfers are assigned, and the program benefits and obligations. This module was added because field studies highligted a lack of understanding of how the program works, with participants believing rumors that if they save in the bank account opened for them by the Government, they will be expelled from the program.
The application to be evaluated takes into account user feedback on content and design and thus has new educational topics, exercises and simulations (i.e., mobile wallets), based on identified needs of the MFA population and the specificities of the current CCT-linked financial products. The estimated time spent receiving the full training is an average of three hours per person. In sum, the tablet has the power to increase user and family interest in financial issues, to give motivation to set up savings goals, maintain better control of household finances and to increase user confidence in the financial system.
The intervention will involve a ‘basic’ treatment – a 8-month implementation of the tablet application, which will reach between 100,000 to 110,000 participants. Part of these participants will continue with an ‘enhanced’ treatment, which involves receiving text messages for four months following the end of their tablet treatment.
Messages will include mobile text ‘reinforcement’ messages offering knowledge reminders or rules of thumb, as well as saving ‘nudges’. These text messages will be sent for four months biweekly (2 per month) after completing the tablet usage.
Texts will be directly related to the content included in the application and to the specific financial product the government provided for that person as part of the CCT program. Some of them will also be nudge messages, with a call to action to put in practice what was learnt.
Tablets will be distributed among madres líderes (mother leaders) of the MFA program. During an introductory session, these leaders will commit to the program and set their goals in terms of number of women they will help train with the tablet app during their rotation period (35 on average). Each leader will have 2 months to reach their goal, after which they will rotate the tablet and pass it along to a different mother leader in the community, so that many people can be reached with a smaller amount of tablet computers.