CGM’s digital finance initiatives focus on four main themes: States, markets, academia and end-clients, with a special focus on financial inclusion. Growth economies are experiencing a digital financial revolution propelled by an enabling ecosystem facilitated by governments and by digital and financial innovators. This has allowed unbanked communities and vulnerable groups to access formal saving, credit, remittance and risk solutions.  

Focus Areas


We collaborate with the government to provide policy, research,and advisory services to support the creation of a framework for a thriving digital finance market while providing adequate protection to the most vulnerable and to the system overall. Our product design and research focuses on the basic plumbing/the rails of a national financial system- payments, identification and record keeping.


Profitable firms are key to a thriving marketplace. Continued profitability is driven by innovation. We provide product design, research, and capacity development through  training to firms foster and help maintain their innovation leadership. Growth economies’ fintech infrastructures are anchored by small merchants.  This sub-theme is of special importance to CGM where we explore the factors critical to  small merchant productivity and resilience.

Economic empowerment of the vulnerable, especially women:

Access to financial services has an outsized impact on historically underserved vulnerable groups. CGM’s research focuses on evaluating the impact of fintech solutions with a lens of consumer protection


Impact of Video Know-Your-Customer (KYC) technology to improve financial inclusion in India

A thought leader, innovator and implementer of technology solutions. FINO enables end-to-end customer sourcing and servicing.

Segments of the population in low- and middle-income countries, such as daily wage earners or small business owners in rural areas, typically have limited access to formal financial services. Contactless digital payment technology could expand financial access for underbanked populations by reducing the need for physical banks and in-person services, which would also limit risky person-to-person interaction during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Visual Know Your Customer (V-KYC) is a completely touchless, artificial intelligence-based digital banking technology that scans the video and audio of customers’ mobile calls and processes the data to provide instant and remote authorization and screening of potential customers. The V-KYC technology can potentially onboard and expand payments banking access to new merchants and end clients, increase transactions through eschewing the need for in person authentication, enable the uptake insurance services and money transfers. The research team aims to evaluate the impact of a novel V-KYC product on the expansion of and access to formal banking in India. In collaboration with FINO, one of the largest payment banks in India, the research team will develop and deploy the V-KYC technology and through a randomized control experiment study its impact on financial and business outcomes such as onboarding levels, volume and breadth of transactions, servicing of existing clients, and access to government subsidies and loan instruments. The team will also survey individuals and business owners to measure V-KYC’s effect on respondents’ ability to weather the economic shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Developing an ML Decision Support System for Digital Finance in Emerging Markets

Ganesh Iyer, Yixiang Xu, Rupa Ruchismita

The rails for the ongoing digital payments revolution in emerging markets are dependent on Cash-in Cash-out merchant terminals at small mom and pop stores. These merchants play a crucial role in providing access to financial services in underserved regions. However, payment firms face high merchant churn rates and an even greater merchant dormancy challenge.

To tackle the challenge, we develop a two staged project and test a machine learning (ML)-driven decision support system (DSS) to augment merchant decision-making.

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The system serves two functionalities: it automates routines and liberates valuable merchant-time, otherwise deployed towards repetitive tasks, thus reducing their cognitive burden; and it complements merchants’ entrepreneurial ability by providing location and profile-specific personalized data-driven business insight to aid their entrepreneurial instincts. Through a series of field experiments, researchers work to demonstrate the efficacy of an ML-based decision support system to make small financial merchants thrive, thus deepening the financial inclusion ecosystem.