What problems are UPI customers encountering?
We are grateful to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for entrusting us with a grant under the Customer Protection Program housed at Dvara Research. We thank our advisors for the Program – Anna Wallace, Bindu Ananth, Rafe Mazer and Rajesh Bansal.
We thank the several industry experts and our technical, knowledge and implementation partners with whom we are working to solve pressing customer protection problems and from whom we are learning about the challenges faced by customers of financial services in India.
Dvara Research considers itself to be the voice of low-income households. This has been our mission for 15 years now, and during this time, we have built a strong and credible reputation in research and advocacy positions relating to financial inclusion and financial customer protection.
Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) products have become one of the popular modes for customers to make retail purchases in India. These products have been positioned as challengers to credit cards that can make credit more accessible to customers at little to no cost. Yet, the actual costs customers may incur have not been documented in the Indian context. Dvara Research’s report on BNPL attempts to fill this gap. Concluded in late 2022, the report finds that customers using BNPL incur monetary costs comparable to costs of using credit cards, and are susceptible to adverse risks emerging from gaps in customer protection.
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Leveraging social capital to enhance the customer experience of public health insurance programs – This project maps a customer’s journey through public health insurance programs, identifies potential hurdles that the customer may face in benefiting from those programs, and provides examples of how social capital can be put to work to overcome those challenges. Once completed, this project can provide a useful lens for evaluating public health insurance programs from a customer perspective, and aid in developing community-driven solutions to customer challenges.
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Dvara Research envisions a world in which every low-income household and every enterprise has complete access to suitable financial services and social security through a range of channels that enable them to use services securely and confidently. We identify ourselves as the voice of low-income customers. They are the reason we exist, and we are relentless advocates for their financial wellbeing.
Since 2008, Dvara Research has deeply analysed, and carefully written about, financial inclusion and social protection in India from policy, regulatory, and practitioner perspectives that are anchored to its mission. Its work has gained the admiration and respect of policymakers and regulators, and since its inception, Dvara Research has been a research-partner of choice for such key policy-making bodies as the Reserve Bank of India, Securities and Exchange Board of India, Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority etc.
Our work at Dvara Research is categorised into four verticals that conduct transformative research into the various aspects of financial inclusion and social protection. These four verticals are – Financial Systems Design, Future of Finance, Social Protection, and Household Finance Research. The Customer Protection Program, launched in November 2021, is a horizontal program that overlaps across all the areas of work that we do.
This initiative develops and disseminates financial systems’ designs focused on achieving both inclusion and stability. The research efforts here aim to facilitate a well-functioning financial system for India that is built on the three fundamental pillars of high-quality origination, orderly risk transmission and robust risk aggregation. Such a financial system is needed to deliver full financial inclusion and financial deepening in a manner that enhances systemic stability.
Anna is the Senior Program Officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Her role is to leverage technology to enable financial regulators in managing the risks posed by emerging financial services models without impeding the innovation required to drive financial inclusion. Anna sits on boards for the Alliance for Innovative Regulation and FSD Kenya. Anna has 20 years’ experience in public policy with an expertise in financial regulation, digital financial services and consumer protection. In her most recent senior leadership role, Anna built the innovation department at the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority. This included developing the world’s first ‘Regulatory Sandbox’, creating an international network of financial regulators to promote pro-innovation regulation (the Global Financial Innovation Network) and developing policy on issues like cloud computing, machine learning and crypto assets. Anna was the accountable executive for FCDO-funded technical assistance programs to Nigeria and was a member of UK Financial Services Investment Board and Fintech Delivery Board. This role builds on a broad career across a range of public sector organizations, including the UK Government, European Commission and the Scottish Parliament.
Bindu is the Chair, Co-Founder and Managing Trustee of Dvara Holdings. Bindu is the Founder of Dvara Health Finance. Prior to this, she was Board Chair of Northern Arc Capital from 2009 – 2018. She also worked in ICICI Bank’s microfinance team between 2001 and 2005 and was head of the new product development team within their Rural Banking Group in 2007.
She has an under-graduate degree in Economics from Madras University and Masters Degrees from the Institute of Rural Management (IRMA) and Harvard University’s John. F. Kennedy School of Government.
Bindu has co-edited “Financial Engineering for Low-Income Households”, a book published by SAGE. She has also published in the Economic and Political Weekly, OECD Trade Paper Series and the Small Enterprise Development Journal. She was a member of three RBI Committees: financial inclusion, SME finance and housing securitisation. She was a member of the Taskforce of the Insolvency & Bankruptcy Board of India (2017). She was a member of the Government of India’s High Level Committee on Women (2014-15) and the Tamil Nadu Government’s Expert Committee on Revival of MSMEs (2022).
She is an Independent Director of NeoGrowth Credit, Avanti Finance and Syngenta Foundation. Bindu was a recipient of the ET Prime Women’s Leadership Award in 2020.
Rajesh Bansal is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of The Reserve Bank Innovation Hub. He is a highly regarded thought leader in the areas of digital financial services and digital infrastructure, Mr. Bansal has nearly three decades of global experience in designing digital IDs, electronic payment products, and cash transfers, to enable inclusive development in multiple Asian and African markets. Prior to joining RBIH, he was a senior adviser at Carnegie India, where he led the center’s Technology and Society program.
Mr Bansal has previously served at the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in various capacities, including in areas of technology, payment systems, and financial inclusion. He is one of the key architects of India’s journey from cash to cash-lite by actively promoting policies, strengthening institutions, governance frameworks, and designing new products and solutions for scale and adoption. Mr Bansal was a member of the founding team of Aadhaar and specifically led the design of India’s Direct Benefits Transfer system which is benefiting hundreds of millions of low-income clients. He also played a key role in creating India Stack, digital ID-based infrastructure for a presence less and cashless service delivery platform in India. He has been a member of a number of committees of the Government of India and the RBI.
Mr Bansal is a frequent speaker, moderator, and panellist on financial innovation and inclusion in academic circles, conferences and fintech festivals nationally and internationally. He has authored a number of articles and opinion pieces in leading publications ranging from The Economic Times to The Print. A recipient of the prestigious Golden Jubilee scholarship scheme of the RBI, Mr Bansal holds a Master’s degree from Duke University in International Development Policy, USA.
Paul Adams is the Director of Financial Inclusion and Consumer Protection at Innovations for Poverty Action. He is an experienced economist, behavioural science consultant and researcher, with 15 years of economic research experience and more than a decade looking at consumers’ financial decision-making. He started working in financial services regulation in 2012, and in 2014, he co-founded the Financial Conduct Authority’s Behavioural Economics and Data Science Unit, leading the organisation’s Behavioural Economics work. He ran the FCA’s first ever large scale Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) and has since run over 27 large scale RCTs to inform policy in areas such as compensation, retirement, insurance, savings, credit cards, personal loans and current accounts. He has published in academic journals include the Journal of Financial Economics, Economica and the Journal of Marketing research, and is a Senior Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics. From 2019, Paul worked as a Senior Behavioural Economist at the Dutch financial market supervisor, the AFM. In 2021 he set up his own consulting company working to ethically apply behavioural science in commercial and not-for-profit organisations. As a consultant, he has worked with Shift (the design charity); the European Commission Joint Research Centre; the World Bank Mind, Behavioural and Development team and Innovations for Poverty Action, amongst others.