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Study Overview

The effects of agent incentives and training of women business owners on the take-up of mobile financial services in Indonesia
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The Government of Indonesia has encouraged several large banks to develop branchless banking services, including basic savings accounts that are supported by village-based agents and that can be accessed using mobile phones. However, little is known about the most effective ways to promote branchless banking services. The present study helps fill that gap by supporting both supply-side (higher financial incentives for village-based branchless banking agents) and demand-side interventions (training an mentoring of women business owners) designed, initially, to increase access to, take up and use of formal savings accounts and, ultimately, to increase WBOs’ savings and incomes. The interventions were randomized within an experimental design that makes it possible to assess the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of both the supply and demand-side interventions, both separately and in combination.

Registration Citation:

Leon, G., Deserranno, E., Witolear, F., Buvinic, M., Johnson, H.C. and Perova, E., 2019. The effects of agent incentives and training of women business owners on the take-up of mobile financial services in Indonesia. Registry for International Development for Impact Evaluations (RIDIE). Available at: 10.23846/ridie169

Information and Communications Technology
Private Sector Development
Additional Keywords:
Gender, Entrepreneurship, Agent banking, Mobile savings
Secondary ID Number(s):

Principal Investigator(s)

Name of First PI:
Gianmarco Leon / Erika Deserranno / Firman Witolear
Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Spain) / Northewestern University (USA) / Australian National University (Australia)
Name of Second PI:
Mayra Buvinic / Hillary C. Johnson / Elizaveta Perova
Center for Global Development (USA) / The World Bank Group (USA) / The World Bank Group (USA)

Study Sponsor

ExxonMobil Foundation and the East Asia and Pacific Gender Innovation Lab of the World Bank Group
Study Sponsor Location:
United States

Research Partner

Name of Partner Institution:
Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab in Southeast Asia (JPAL-SEA)
Type of Organization:
Research institute/University

Intervention Overview


Agents earn a fee for each new LP savings account client identified as well as a fee for each client's deposits and withdrawals. The standard agent fee for identifying a new LP client that deposits at least Rp. 20,000 (approximately US$1.54) and who maintains an average savings balance of Rp. 20,000 over two weeks is Rp. 2,000 (about US$0.15). The supply-side “high-incentive treatment” is Rp. 10,000 (about US$0.77) for each new client identified. The demand-side interventions of training and mentoring were targeted exclusively to randomly selected WBOs in each trial village. The training focused on personal financial management (tracking income and expenses, setting priorities, the importance of saving, financial planning), business financial management (basic bookkeeping, cash flow planning, record-keeping), and description of the branchless banking products (LP and LKD). The initial training was conducted in village groups and lasted for about 3 hours (but ranging from 1 to 4 hours) and was followed by three group mentoring sessions that focused on addressing any questions from the trainees and on actual practices using their own individual businesses as cases.

Theory of Change:

• Step 1: Agents are recruited and participate in the agent training and mentoring • Step 2: The performance-based agent incentives improve treated agent performance • Step 3: Treated WBOs are better informed about the branchless banking services available in their villages • Step 4: Treated WBOs have more favorable perceptions of agents and banks and are more open to taking up and using branchless banking services. This step will be tested by co-investigators in a separate paper. • Step 5: Treated WBOs have increased knowledge and agency and improved business practices • Step 6: Treated WBOs increase their saving and borrowing, leading in turn to increased business inputs • Step 7: Increased business inputs, utilization of branchless banking services, increased WBO knowledge and improved WBO business practices increase WBO business profits, leading ultimately to higher household income

Multiple Treatment Arms Evaluated?

Implementing Agency

Name of Organization:
Mercy Corps Indonesia
Type of Organization:
NGO (local)/Community Based Organization/Other civil society organization

Program Funder

Name of Organization:
ExxonMobil Foundation
Type of Organization:
NGO (International)

Intervention Timing

Intervention or Program Started at time of Registration?
Start Date:
End Date:
Evaluation Method

Evaluation Method Overview

Primary (or First) Evaluation Method:
Randomized control trial
Other (not Listed) Method:
Additional Evaluation Method (If Any):
Other (not Listed) Method:

Method Details

Details of Evaluation Approach:

Agents and WBOs were randomly assigned to their respective treatments prior to the Baseline Survey interviews. 205 agents were assigned to the (standard) low-incentive treatment, while the remaining 195 agents were assigned to the high-incentive treatment. Four of the seven sample WBOs in each of the 400 villages were randomly assigned to receive training and mentoring, with the remaining three WBOs assigned to receive no training or mentoring. A Baseline Survey collected data on 2,800 WBOs (7 per village) as well as 2,000 MBOs (5 per village). The Baseline Survey collected data on (1) basic background characteristics (e.g., age, sex, education, marital status, number of children), (2) mobile phone usage, (3) relationships (if any) with the branchless banking agents, (4) knowledge and use of mobile and other financial services, (5) sources of income, (6) business assets, (7) household assets and housing characteristics, (8) savings and credit, (9) intra-household decision-making, and (10) feelings and perceptions about the agents and financial institutions. The impacts will be detected using baseline and endline surveys of 2,800 WBOs.

Outcomes (Endpoints):

Primary outcomes: • Average monthly profit of women-owned businesses during the past year • Whether woman business owners (WBOs) saved during the past 12 months • Total amount of savings (and the amount saved in bank savings accounts and the amount saved in electronic savings accounts) by WBOs during the past year • Current total savings balances (and balances in bank savings accounts and in electronic savings accounts) of WBOs • Formal bank savings accounts and electronic savings accounts cited as savings instruments by WBOs for emergencies Secondary outcomes: • Total value of the capital stock and total capital investments during the past 12 months in women-owned businesses • Labor inputs (days and hours worked by business owners and number of paid and unpaid employees) in women-owned businesses • Use of recommended business practices by WBOs • Women’s agency • Access to credit

Unit of Analysis:
Individual women business owners (WBOs)

Either or both treatments have no effect on outcomes. The treatments have no interaction effects. The effects do not vary with selected baseline characteristics of the women business owners (heterogeneity analysis).

Unit of Intervention or Assignment:
Village, in the case of agent incentives. Individual women business owners (WBOs), in the case of the training and mentoring
Number of Clusters in Sample:
400 villages
Number of Individuals in Sample:
4,800 business owners (2,800 females and 2,000 males)
Size of Treatment, Control, or Comparison Subsamples:
195 villages assigned to the high-incentive treatment. 205 villages assigned to the low-incentive treatment

Supplementary Files

Analysis Plan:
Other Documents:

Outcomes Data

Baseline and endline household survey data on 4,800 business owners (including 2,800 WBOs and 2,000 MBOs) will be used to measure the outcomes.
Data Already Collected?
Data Previously Used?
Data Access:
Restricted -- Access requires a formal approval process
Data Obtained by the Study Researchers?
Data Approval Process:
The data were collected by this study. Permission of this study's PIs is needed to gain access to the data.
Approval Status:
Yes-obtained approval and have received the data

Treatment Assignment Data

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

Data Analysis Status:

Study Materials

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Registration Category

Registration Category:
Prospective, Category 3: Data for measuring impacts have been obtained/collected by the research team but analysis for this evaluation has not started

Completion Overview

Intervention Completion Date:
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Unit of Analysis:
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Preliminary Report:
Preliminary Report URL:
Summary of Findings:
Paper Summary:
Paper Citation:

Data Availability

Data Availability (Primary Data):
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Other Materials

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Description of Changes:

Study Stopped