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Microfinance meets the market

  • Cull, Robert
  • Demirguc-Kunt, Asli
  • Morduch, Jonathan

Microfinance institutions have proved the possibility of providing reliable banking services to poor customers. Their second aim is to do so in a commercially-viable way. This paper analyzes the tensions and opportunities of microfinance as it embraces the market, drawing on a data set that includes 346 of the world's leading microfinance institutions and covers nearly 18 million active borrowers. The data show remarkable successes in maintaining high rates of loan repayment, but the data also suggest that profit-maximizing investors would have limited interest in most of the institutions that are focusing on the poorest customers and women. Those institutions, as a group, charge their customers the highest fees in the sample but also face particularly high transaction costs, in part due to small transaction sizes. Innovations to overcome the well-known problems of asymmetric information in financial markets were a triumph, but further innovation is needed to overcome the challenges of high costs.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 4630.

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Date of creation: 01 May 2008
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4630
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  1. Conning, Jonathan & Udry, Christopher, 2007. "Rural Financial Markets in Developing Countries," Handbook of Agricultural Economics, Elsevier.
  2. Dean Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2010. "Expanding Credit Access: Using Randomized Supply Decisions to Estimate the Impacts," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 23(1), pages 433-464, January.
  3. Xavier Gin� & Pamela Jakiela & Dean Karlan & Jonathan Morduch, 2010. "Microfinance Games," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 60-95, July.
  4. Cull, Robert & Demirguc-Kunt, Asli & Morduch, Jonathan, 2006. "Financial performance and outreach : a global analysis of leading microbanks," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3827, The World Bank.
  5. Morduch, Jonathan, 1999. "The role of subsidies in microfinance: evidence from the Grameen Bank," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 229-248, October.
  6. Beck, Thorsten & Demirguc-Kunt, Asli & Martinez Peria, Maria Soledad, 2005. "Reaching out : access to and use of banking services across countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3754, The World Bank.
  7. Ashok S. Rai & Tomas Sj�str�m, 2004. "Is Grameen Lending Efficient? Repayment Incentives and Insurance in Village Economies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(1), pages 217-234.
  8. repec:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-3125425 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. David J. McKenzie & Christopher Woodruff, 2006. "Do Entry Costs Provide an Empirical Basis for Poverty Traps? Evidence from Mexican Microenterprises," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55, pages 3-42.
  10. Ashok S. Rai & Tomas Sj–str–m, 2004. "Is Grameen Lending Efficient? Repayment Incentives and Insurance in Village Economies," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71(1), pages 217-234, 01.
  11. Conning, Jonathan, 1999. "Outreach, sustainability and leverage in monitored and peer-monitored lending," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 51-77, October.
  12. Mudit Kapoor & Jonathan Morduch & Shamika Ravi, 2007. "From Microfinance to m-Finance Innovations Case Discussion: M-PESA," Innovations: Technology, Governance, Globalization, MIT Press, vol. 2(1-2), pages 82-90, April.
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