Financial inclusion has been one of the most prominent issues on the international development agenda in recent years, as access to payments, remittances, credit, savings and insurance services have been shown to improve economic resilience and livelihoods. While bank account access remains low in many developing countries, widespread access to mobile phones is providing a platform to push financial access even into remote areas. The Covid-19 pandemic has only reinforced the importance of digital finance, which provides a safe, socially-distanced means to transact, including for distribution of social assistance transfers. In this episode, Dr Russell Toth spoke to Dr Thushara Dibley about his work on digital finance schemes and how owning a mobile phone can help lift people out of poverty in Myanmar.
Russell Toth is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Economics at the University of Sydney. He is a development microeconomist, focusing on the development of the private sector in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, on topics such as financial systems, digitisation, agricultural value chains, and small and medium enterprises. His research often involves partnering with private and public sector organisations to evaluate programs intended to improve private sector development outcomes. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from Cornell University.
You can follow Russell on Twitter @russell_toth.
For more information or to browse additional resources, visit the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre’s website here.