Promoting Financial Inclusion and Old-age Income Security in Odisha
Crosslinks Foundation is carrying out a two year project in Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha state that seeks to design, implement and evaluate various informational, behavioral and fiscal interventions to encourage greater enrollment and regular savings in Government of India's contributory old-age pension scheme called APY (Atal Pension Yojana).
The project is supported by SIDBI's Poorest State Inclusive Growth Programme (PSIG) and is being conducted using a randomized controlled trial (RCT) methodology across 200 villages, which are randomly allocated into one control and three treatment clusters each comprising 50 villages.
Over the last one year, the Crosslinks project team has been detailed information sessions on APY in the treatment villages. In the village meetings our field team educate rural households on the importance of participating in the formal banking system, committing to regular savings and the benefits of old-age pension security. Crosslinks has appointed and trained local resource persons who serve as “resident APY experts” in their home villages. Our local APY champions are also skilled in the use of mobile banking apps such as Government of India’s BHIM app to facilitate remote payment of APY contributions using mobile phones right from a rural subscriber’s home without having to visit the bank. MyBit is also using low-cost nudges such as monthly SMS messages in local languages (Hindi, Odia and Kannada) and distributing colourful APY wall calendars for rural homes to increase the salience of the scheme and constantly remind our beneficiaries about their pension needs.
Behavioural Science studies from different parts of the world have shown that the poor often face severe self-control issues in making small investments for their future especially when the pay-out happens at a much later date. MyBit is therefore conducting monthly lotteries in 100 villages that uses cash prizes to incentivize the rural poor to initiate savings accumulation through APY and help create a habit of making disciplined investments to secure their old age.