The global financial crisis has intensified the problems of over-indebtedness, especially for the poor. In this context, the microfinance industry is giving more attention to building their customers’ financial capabilities, designing products that respond to their needs and preferences, and ensuring their protection as consumers. In a world where financial products and institutions are expanding rapidly, deciding which services to choose and how to use them is an increasing challenge. That challenge is especially great for customers who are poor and have limited experience in the formal financial sector. While money-management strategies can be innovative, the financial choices they make are defined by environments where informal financial practices are dominant and the consumer is often uncertain about commercial products and services. In increasingly complex and competitive financial markets, consumers with low levels of financial literacy lack the information and tools necessary to make informed decisions. Building financial capabilities can help people move from being overwhelmed by their financial options to being empowered by them.
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