Making financial markets work healthily for the poor
The financial sector has been an early site for the development and application of market development approaches, since the work of FinMark Trust in the early 2000s. But how does one know when a financial market is working well for the poor? Work to date has followed a clear theory of change based on increasing access to and usage of financial products through changing market systems. As poor customers use financial services, so they should be protected against shocks and enabled to climb out of poverty, in the process deepening and extending the financial system. However, as the goal of promoting financial inclusion has become mainstream policy in many countries, it has also become clearer that indicators of access and usage alone are necessary but not sufficient indicators of success. This paper seeks to highlight and present early results from an alternative application of a systemic approach which extends the linkages from access and usage to welfare changes which result, using the lens of financial health of users. This lens may have significant implications for focusing interventions and measurement in making markets work for the poor (M4P) programmes, emphasizing behaviour change over a narrow product focus only.