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A Personal Touch: Text Messaging for Loan Repayment

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Author Info

  • Melanie Morten

    ()
    (Economics Department, Yale University)

  • Dean Karlan

    ()
    (Economic Growth Center, Yale University)

  • Jonathan Zinman

    ()
    (Dartmouth College)

Abstract

We worked with two microlenders to test impacts of randomly assigned reminders for loan repayments in the “text messaging capital of the world”. We do not find strong evidence that loss versus gain framing or messaging timing matter. Messages only robustly improve repayment when they include the loan officer’s name. This effect holds for clients serviced by the loan officer previously but not for first-time borrowers. Taken together, the results highlight the potential and limits of communications technology for mitigating moral hazard, and suggest that personal obligation/reciprocity between borrowers and bank employees can be harnessed to help overcome market failures.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Economic Growth Center, Yale University in its series Working Papers with number 1011.

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Length: 19 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:egc:wpaper:1011

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Keywords: microcredit; microfinance; randomized evaluation; development finance;

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  1. Sumit Agarwal & Brent W. Ambrose & Souphala Chomsisengphet & Chunlin Liu, 2011. "The Role of Soft Information in a Dynamic Contract Setting: Evidence from the Home Equity Credit Market," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 43(4), pages 633-655, 06.
  2. Karlan, Dean S. & Zinman, Jonathan, 2007. "Observing Unobservables: Identifying Information Asymmetries with a Consumer Credit Field Experiment," CEPR Discussion Papers 6182, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Karlan, Dean & McConnell, Margaret & Mullainathan, Sendhil & Zinman, Jonathan, 2010. "Getting to the Top of Mind: How Reminders Increase Saving," Working Papers 82, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  4. Felipe Kast & Stephan Meier & Dina Pomeranz, 2012. "Under-Savers Anonymous: Evidence on Self-Help Groups and Peer Pressure as a Savings Commitment Device," NBER Working Papers 18417, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. William Adams & Liran Einav & Jonathan Levin, 2009. "Liquidity Constraints and Imperfect Information in Subprime Lending," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 49-84, March.
  6. Ximena Cadena & Antoinette Schoar, 2011. "Remembering to Pay? Reminders vs. Financial Incentives for Loan Payments," NBER Working Papers 17020, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Boot, Arnoud W. A., 2000. "Relationship Banking: What Do We Know?," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 7-25, January.
  8. William Jack & Tavneet Suri, 2011. "Mobile Money: The Economics of M-PESA," NBER Working Papers 16721, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Jenny C. Aker & Isaac M. Mbiti, 2010. "Mobile Phones and Economic Development in Africa," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(3), pages 207-32, Summer.
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