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Abstract In FY 2020-21, the Ministry of Social Welfare (as part of the Government of Bangladesh) fully digitized the disbursement of Bhata (social safety net allowance) payments to 88 million beneficiaries of the Old Age allowance, Widow allowance, and Disable allowance programs, primarily delivering payments into existing or new Mobile Financial Services (MFS) accounts. As of June 2021, all newly enrolled participants receive money digitally on mobile money accounts. While this new system has many benefits, concerns regarding beneficiaries’ experience and barriers to use were identified during monitoring surveys. This study aims to test two programmatic interventions designed to address the market frictions that beneficiaries face. In FY 2020-21, the Ministry of Social Welfare (as part of the Government of Bangladesh) fully digitized the disbursement of Bhata (social safety net allowance) payments to 88 million beneficiaries of the Old Age allowance, Widow allowance, and Disable allowance programs, primarily delivering payments into existing or new Mobile Financial Services (MFS) accounts. As of June 2021, all newly enrolled participants receive money digitally on mobile money accounts. While this new system has many benefits, concerns regarding beneficiaries’ experience and barriers to use were identified during monitoring surveys. This study aims to test a combination of programmatic interventions designed to address the market frictions that beneficiaries face.
Last Published August 31, 2021 01:11 PM September 07, 2021 12:18 PM
Intervention (Public) The intervention's goal is to increase beneficiary awareness about collecting their government aid. Two messaging devices will be used: 1. Circulation of posters providing information on mobile money account services likely to be of interest to G2P payment beneficiaries. 2. Video messages in the local dialect or Bangla highlighting the features of mobile money accounts that may be of interest specifically for DSS beneficiaries. The intervention's goal is to increase beneficiary awareness about collecting their government aid and other potential uses of mobile money accounts. A combination of methods to increase awareness will be used. 1. Circulate posters providing information on mobile money account services likely to be of interest to some G2P payment beneficiaries. 2. Screen video messages in the local dialect or Bangla highlighting the features of mobile money accounts that may be of interest specifically for some G2P payment beneficiaries. 3. Incentivize mobile money agents to provide better quality services to their clientele (e.g. providing assistance during cash-out), this intervention will introduce an award system to recognize agents that have provided high quality ‘customer care’.
Experimental Design (Public) This trial is a randomized controlled trial with three arms. T3: Video message viewing + poster/print media T2: Video message viewing only T1: Poster/print media T0: No treatment This trial is a randomized controlled trial with three arms. T3: Video message viewing + poster/print media + incentivized mobile money agents T2: Incentivized mobile money agents T1: Video message viewing + poster/print media T0: No treatment
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms T3: Video message viewing + Poster at agent point; 25 unions T2: Video message viewing only; 25 unions T1: Poster at agent point only; 25 unions T0: No treatment; 25 unions T3: Video message viewing + poster/print media + incentivized mobile money agents; 25 unions T2: Incentivized mobile money agents; 25 unions T1: Video message viewing + poster/print media; 25 unions T0: No treatment; 25 unions
Intervention (Hidden) Circulation of posters providing information on mobile money account services likely to be of interest to G2P payment beneficiaries. Posters will be distributed to (i) MFS agents via IPA enumerators with the endorsement of the MFS provider whose services they offer; (ii) DSS beneficiaries via MFS agents or UDC agents at the time of withdrawal. The posters allow the information to reach homes and potential clients who may not otherwise visit the MFS agents (for example, women). The posters ensure that the information provided is retained and serve as a constant reminder about available services whenever an MFS client operates the mobile money account. Video messages in the local dialect or Bangla highlighting the features of mobile money accounts that may be of interest specifically for DSS beneficiaries. 1. Mobile SMS messages with links to the videos can be sent directly to the phones of the beneficiaries; 2. The videos will be distributed by IPA enumerators 3. A separate video message that reminds DSS beneficiaries that the G2P payments and the mobile money accounts are for their own use and encourages them to be fully aware of transactions made using their account and the potential uses of their accounts. The key advantage of the video messages is that they may communicate information about mobile money accounts in both local dialect (which may be more accessible or engaging than existing advertising) as well as in standard Bangla. The video messages can also facilitate local exchange of knowledge and sharing of experience regarding mobile money accounts. For example, a female role model can show the video (using her own mobile device) to DSS beneficiaries, an activity that can generate further discussion. The intervention's goal is to increase beneficiary awareness about collecting their government aid and other potential uses of mobile money accounts. A combination of methods to increase awareness will be used. Intervention 1: The development and circulation of video messages in the local dialect highlighting the features of mobile money accounts that may be of interest specifically for DSS beneficiaries. Intervention 2: Distribution of posters/leaflets in targeted wards providing information on mobile money account services likely to be of interest to G2P payment beneficiaries. 1. The posters/leaflets can be distributed to (i) MFS agents via the MFS provider whose services they offer; (ii) DSS beneficiaries via UDC agents; 2. The posters/leaflets can repeat and reinforce information communicated in the video messages described under ‘Intervention 1’. 3. The posters/leaflets will be tailored to the needs and interests of the poorest G2P payment beneficiaries. 4. The posters/leaflets will provide information on what fees MFS agents should be charging; the intervention posters are intended not only to advertise the agent’s services but also remove information barriers that may lead to exploitation. Intervention 3: To incentivize MFS agents to provide better quality services to their clientele (e.g. providing assistance during cash-out), this intervention will introduce an award system to recognize agents that have provided high quality ‘customer care’. 1. The award will be based on feedback of DSS beneficiaries regarding the quality of services that they have received from MFS agents in their locality. This feedback will be collected during the baseline and endline surveys. 2. MFS agents who receive the best feedback will receive a plaque or banner announcing the award that they can display in their shops. As a further incentive, the award will also include a ‘shop improvement’ item, e.g. a tubelight, a rack of shelves to store products, a television, a kettle for selling tea, etc.
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