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Informal Finance in Low-income Countries

Study describes informal finance as: * financial transactions lying along a continuum that ranges from casual loans among friends and relatives, through loans made by merchants and traders, through loans and deposit handled by various types of informal credit and savings group, through pawnshops that may operate with government licence, through finance companies that have corporate charter but are not regulated, through credit unions that in some countries are regulated and in others are not, and to banks that are closely regulated by a central bank From cross comparisons over countries the author concludes with the following impressions of the informal economy: * informal finance is ubiquitous in low income countries and it is concentrated wherever there are substantial amounts of commercial transactions * it is much more complicated than rich people lending money to poor people * it includes a dynamic collage of dynamic, innovative and flexible arrangements that are adapted to the local economy and social environment * there is surprisingly little evidence of exploitation or monopoly profits * large numbers of poor benefit from participation * it enhances the efficiency of resource allocation * major elements of the informal economy are intertwined with the formal economy


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