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Study Overview

Accelerating Access to Micro-Credit Through Branchless Banking and Electronic Tablets
Study is 3ie funded:
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Study Status:
In Development

Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) play an important role in providing startup capital to micro- and small-enterprises in developing countries. As a part of an effort to reach more clients-- especially those who are unbanked-- proves difficult. As part of their strategy, many MFIs are beginning to pursue branchless banking. Our unsolicited grant presented an opportunity to secure part of the overall budget and speed-up the full implementation. The present intervention comprises of purchasing tablet devices for loan officers to go to the field and offer loan products to new and existing clients. The objectives are to: (1) reduce the internal cost of delivery of the service (2) reduce the time to process applications (3) reduce the costs previously incurred by clients in visiting branches (4) increase the outreach: 70% of the Loan officer time is spent outside the branches. Once enabled with branchless devices (tablets), they will increase the number of access points in underserved areas and be able to reach more clients due to the time savings from the branchless banking process.

Registration Citation:

Hellwig, R.P., 2018. Accelerating Access to Micro-Credit Through Branchless Banking and Electronic Tablets. Registry for International Development for Impact Evaluations (RIDIE). Available at: 10.23846/ridie144

Information and Communications Technology
Additional Keywords:
Branchless Banking, Access to Finance, MSE, SME, Microfinance, Tablet, A2F, MFI, enterprise, business, microenterprise
Secondary ID Number(s):

Principal Investigator(s)

Name of First PI:
Rafael Pilliard Hellwig
FHI 360
Name of Second PI:

Study Sponsor

USAID Local Enterprise Support Project (LENS)
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Research Partner

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Intervention Overview


Two Jordanian micro-finance institutions (MFI) have approached the USAID Local Enterprise Support Project (LENS) with interest in branchless banking through electronic tablets. As part of the Access to Finance (A2F) component, the project will support the acquisition of tablets to these MFIs through its in-kind grant mechanisms. The MFIs have agreed to participate in a design where 50% of its branches will be randomly selected to receive tablets for their loan officers, receive training on their use, and begin deploying the branchless solution in the field. The ultimate beneficiaries of the program are Jordanian micro- and small-business and individuals who will benefit from increased access to credit-- in particular those in remote areas who have fewer opportunities to obtain financing. The intermediary beneficiaries of the grant are the micro-finance institutions.

Theory of Change:

IF micro-finance institutions implement branchless banking solutions through electronic tablets that simplify and accelerate the loan application process; AND IF women are more likely to be unbanked, underbanked, informal, and home-based; THEN loan officers will be able to extend credit to more unbankable and underbanked populations (e.g. individuals who cannot or do not want to travel to a branch); THEN loan officers will be able to extend credit to more individuals/micro-enterprises on a monthly basis; THEN the total volume (USD) of loans will increase; THEN more women will receive financing

Multiple Treatment Arms Evaluated?

Implementing Agency

Name of Organization:
USAID Local Enterprise Support Project (LENS) / FHI 360
Type of Organization:
NGO (International)

Program Funder

Name of Organization:
USAID Jordan
Type of Organization:
Foreign or Multilateral Aid Agency

Intervention Timing

Intervention or Program Started at time of Registration?
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Evaluation Method

Evaluation Method Overview

Primary (or First) Evaluation Method:
Randomized control trial
Other (not Listed) Method:
Additional Evaluation Method (If Any):
Other (specify)
Other (not Listed) Method:
Interrupted Time Series / Multilevel Models

Method Details

Details of Evaluation Approach:

The research design is a randomized control trial. A stratified sampling method with proportional allocation will be used to select a control group of branches representing roughly half of the frame. For the first institution, strata will be constructed based on cellular networks serving the branch areas across the country. This will ensure a geographically balanced sample, and guarantee that all cellular network regions will be included. This property is important to the microfinance institution (MFI), as they need to test each cellular network for their speed and performance. For the second MFI, strata will be defined based on high/low potential of the branches (determined by the MFI). From sampling theory, the proportional stratification reduces the variance between the treatment and control groups across repeated sampling, reducing statistical error and improving inference. The design can be diagrammed as a controlled interrupted time series with replication: R O O … O X O O O O O O ... R O O … O O O O X O O O ...

Outcomes (Endpoints):

For each branch, the following outcomes will be measured on a monthly basis: Primary Outcomes: 1. Number of loans disbursed Secondary Outcomes: 2. Number of loans disbursed / loan officer 3. Number of days to process a loan application 4. Number of women financed (organizational level only) 5. Volume (USD) of loans disbursed 6. Number of loans disbursed to rural populations

Unit of Analysis:

Primary Hypothesis: 1. Using ?1 and ?2 to denote the mean monthly number of loans per branch under the standard process and the experimental intervention (branchless banking), the H0 and H1 can be expressed as: Null hypothesis (H0): ?1 - ?2 = 0 (no difference) vs. Two-sided alternative hypothesis (H1): ?1 - ?2 ? 0 (difference). An increase is in average loans is anticipated by the researcher (?2 – ?1 > 0). Secondary Hypotheses: Following the same approach as in 1), the hypotheses H0: ?1 - ?2 = 0 vs. H1: ?1 - ?2 ? 0 will be used to test the for differences in: 2. mean monthly number of loans per loan officer 3. mean duration in days to process a loan application 4. mean monthly number of women financed 5. mean monthly volume (USD) of loans disbursed 6. mean monthly number of loans to rural populations (TBD) Alpha is set at .05, and a Holm adjustment is planned to control the false discovery rate from repeated testing. An increase (?2 – ?1 > 0) is anticipated by the research team for all secondary hypotheses. Supplementary analysis of these hypotheses will be conducted through interrupted time series regression and multilevel modelling.

Unit of Intervention or Assignment:
Number of Clusters in Sample:
2 (micro-finance institutions)
Number of Individuals in Sample:
96 branches (comprising of 657 loan officers)
Size of Treatment, Control, or Comparison Subsamples:
MFI #1: 18 branches receiving treatment, 16 as control; MFI #2: 31 branches receiving treatment, 33 in control group

Supplementary Files

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Outcomes Data

The dataset used for the study will be administrative data received from the micro-finance institutions, as they capture this information in their MIS. At a minimum, it will include monthly branch-level information on the primary outcome measure going back two years prior to the intervention. If possible, more granular data may be collected (e.g. daily, or at the loan officer level).
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Treatment Assignment Data

Participation or Assignment Information:
Data Obtained by the Study Researchers?
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Data Obtained by the Study Researchers?
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Data Analysis

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Study Materials

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Registration Category

Registration Category:
Prospective, Category 1: Data for measuring impacts have not been collected

Completion Overview

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Preliminary Report:
Preliminary Report URL:
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Data Availability

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Other Materials

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Study Stopped