Testing the Impact of Access to Basic Bank Accounts: A Randomized Field Experiment in three countries
Last registered on May 27, 2016

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Testing the Impact of Access to Basic Bank Accounts: A Randomized Field Experiment in three countries
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0000083
Initial registration date
May 27, 2016
Last updated
May 27, 2016 7:28 AM EDT
Location(s)
Region
Region
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Stanford University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Bocconi University
PI Affiliation
Yale University, IPA
PI Affiliation
University of California, Santa Cruz
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2010-05-19
End date
2013-06-01
Secondary IDs
Abstract
To examine the impact of expanding access to basic bank accounts, we set up three randomized evaluations in rural areas of Malawi, Uganda, and Chile. In each study site, we sample around 2,000 unbanked households living within reach of the branch, and sponsor basic accounts at local bank branches for a randomly selected half of them. We examine take-up of the accounts. In Malawi and Uganda, we use three rounds of follow-up surveys to study treatment effects on total savings as well as downstream outcomes over two years.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Dupas, Pascaline et al. 2016. "Testing the Impact of Access to Basic Bank Accounts: A Randomized Field Experiment in three countries." AEA RCT Registry. May 27. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/83/history/8462
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
The core intervention was providing access to a basic account at a formal institution. Access was facilitated through offered assistance in opening an account during a household visit and, when applicable, waived fees. Offers of assistance were personalized and non-tradable. Each site featured slight variations on this intervention, described below.

Uganda: Individuals in the treatment group were visited by agents of the partner bank, MAMIDECOT, four to five months after the baseline. The agents gave some basic information about MAMIDECOT and the accounts, and also explained that the accounts normally featured various fees that would be waived for the study period. At the conclusion of the visit, the agents gave respondents a voucher which could be brought to MAMIDECOT and redeemed for a free account (these vouchers expired after 4 months). Beneficiaries of the free account were informed that the monthly maintenance fees would be waived for a total of 21 months, after which the promotion would end and account holders would be responsible for the fees.

Malawi: The procedure in Malawi was largely the same as in Uganda. Individuals in the treatment group were visited by an agent from the partner bank, NBS, and were given some basic information about NBS and the accounts, and were told that the accounts normally featured various fees that would be waived for the study period. At the conclusion of the visit, the agents gave respondents a voucher (which also expired after 4 months) which could be brought to NBS and redeemed for a free account. Beneficiaries of the free account were informed that the monthly maintenance fees would be waived for a total of 18 months, after which the promotion would end and account holders would have to cover it on their own.

Chile: We randomly selected half of eligible participants to receive assistance opening up an account with BancoEstado. Enumerators assisted treatment participants in filling out the application to open the account and submitting it to the bank. Due to Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements, the accounts required follow-up from the participant at the bank branch at least 20 days after application. The accounts could be used at a bank branch or at a network of shop-based agents through a point-of-service device. The bank had substantial withdrawal fees of between CLP 300 and 600 per transaction (approx. $0.66-$1.33 in 2010 USD), depending on the channel used. These fees also applied to deposits after the fifth per month. We did not cover these fees.
Intervention Start Date
2011-03-14
Intervention End Date
2013-05-01
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
- take-up
- total savings
- investment
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Take-up: will consider someone as actively using account if at least 5 deposits are made within 2 years.

Total savings: summed across all saving sources, including cash at home or hidden place, merry-go-rounds

Investment: spending on business, agricultural inputs, durables, eduation
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Uganda and Malawi: First, researchers formed partnerships with a formal bank in each site, and determined study areas based on low density of comparable saving services and high degree of access to the partner bank. Second, to determine study eligibility, a census was taken in the catchment areas around the branches of the study. (In Uganda, 3 bank branches were utilized for the study; in Malawi, 2 branches.) The sample was randomly selected from census households that were deemed eligible: they did not currently use a savings account and at least one member of the household had some form of income. The baseline survey was then administered to the eligible sample.

After the baseline was analyzed, treatment status was assigned as described below. The treatment households were delivered the intervention by bank staff, monitored by IPA. We then administered follow-up surveys at 6-, 12- and 18-months will be used to estimate the impacts on a range of household activities, including agricultural and business practices, expenditures, household income, response to shocks, and savings and credit practices. In Uganda, qualitative data was collected to understand the mechanisms through which access to a bank account affected (or not) the study participants.

Chile: JPAL identified a partner financial institution and selected rural areas in which the partnering institution was operating in Region IX, one of the poorest regions of the country. A probabilistic sampling strategy was then used to enroll into the study a representative sample of unbanked households in those areas. Upon enrollment and completion of a baseline survey, study households were randomly assigned to either a treatment or comparison group as described below. Those assigned to the treatment group received procedural assistance with account opening.

In Chile, a low take-up rate of 17% prompted a new approach to the study design, as detecting impacts on downstream outcomes was no longer feasible. To explore the issue of low take-up, we decided to conduct a qualitative follow-up survey among the 938 treatment respondents. Control respondents were not included in this round. 639 treatment respondents were successfully surveyed.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Uganda and Malawi: Sample split into treatment arms via stratified, computerized randomization done by the PIs in-office using baseline data.

Chile: Participants were sampled during baseline enumeration via a "random interval" method -- trained enumerators approached each house at a predetermined interval. Eligible participants were administered the baseline survey and assigned treatment via a field-based randomization method. If the last digit of the respondent's national ID number was even, the respondent was assigned to group 1. If odd, the responded was assigned to group 2. It was randomly decided beforehand whether group 1 was control or treatment.
Randomization Unit
Household
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
around 6,200 households
Sample size: planned number of observations
around 6,200 households
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
around 3,100 treatment, 3,100 control
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
UCSC IRB
IRB Approval Date
2014-06-25
IRB Approval Number
2232
IRB Name
UCSC IRB
IRB Approval Date
2009-07-08
IRB Approval Number
1357
IRB Name
Stanford IRB
IRB Approval Date
2012-05-25
IRB Approval Number
24673
IRB Name
UCLA IRB
IRB Approval Date
2011-09-23
IRB Approval Number
10-000998
IRB Name
UCLA IRB
IRB Approval Date
2010-07-09
IRB Approval Number
10-000093
IRB Name
Stanford IRB
IRB Approval Date
2012-05-25
IRB Approval Number
24639
Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
June 01, 2013, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
June 01, 2013, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
6,242 households
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
No
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
6,242 households
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
3,071 treatment households, 3,171 control households
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No

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Program Files
Program Files
No
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers