Regulation and Client Protections

In Praise of Usury, The Economist

Discredited: A String of Suicides Puts Microlending Under the Spotlight, The Economist

Underwater: The Very Future of Microcredit in India is in Danger, Which is a Shame for the Country’s Poor, The Economist

Microfinance should become Smart, Robin Ratcliffe

Get Smart: How to Protect the World’s Most Vulnerable Banking Clients, Elisabeth Rhyne and Asad Mahmood

Lessons Learned from Microfinance Crises: Viewpoints from Investors, Matthew Fuchs

Pursuing a Balanced View of Microfinance, Sangham Press Release

Discussion Questions:

  •  What should the role of the government be in regulation and client protection?
  • What is the role of the government in the sector?
  •  How does competition between MFIs play out for the poor?
  • How should government regulation be prevented from over-populism?  How do we make it effective and beneficial to the poor?
  • With multiple MFIs, how do we balance competition (good for clients) against the possibility of overdebt?
  • What client protections keep the confidence of clients?  To ensure this, should ALL MFIs adhere to the same codes, or how much diversity of programs and different types of microfinance should we allow/encourage?
  • How do we decide on/come to consensus on what these protections are?  And who should be responsible for ensuring their implementation, and for making sure clients are aware of their protections?
  • Is overindebtedness the main things we should be protecting clients against?  What other protections should there be—for example, against fees?  Intimidation?  Exposure to market risks?
  • If there are movements such as the “No Pay” movement in Nicaragua, does that mean that microfinance needs to evaluate the role it plays in the lives of the poor?  Is this an indicator that microfinance as it stands hurts clients?
  • How do we structure the industry so as not to create the incentives that induce clients and politicians to have movements such as “No Pay”?
  • How do we create incentives for MFI investors to invest in a more diverse portfolio of countries?  Will that prevent the problems of over-concentration detailed in the industry?
  • This article suggests that excessive commercialization is what prompted populist government interventions.  Is this true?
  • Is government intervention always detrimental to the industry?  How about to the clients?

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