Nudging for Digital Remmitances Among Migrants


Unlocking Female Labor


Bangalore, Karnataka


19 migrant hostels, 1400 women


University of Michigan, Shahi Exports, IDinsight







Many female, rural, temporary migrants in India move to the city as they face financial distress at home. These women tend to remit a large part of their wages to their families (on average 58% among the population studied). Some of them transfer money through over-the-counter agent services (89%) or else use ATM services (5%) - with a small proportion giving cash through someone they know. While these workers are aware of the existence of digital payment platforms and may see their value add, some trust, fear of loss, and cognitive barriers prevail. Additionally, they faced with institutional and technological barriers. The research focuses on removing these barriers. Our population of interest for this study is female migrant workers in the ready-made garment industry in Karnataka, India, who also live at employer-subsidized hostels.


Can digital payment applications (for example, the BHIM app or USSD) usage for remittances improve financial agency and reduce financial strain faced by migrant employees?  If we provide training, opportunities for practice,), do workers start using these digital payments to send money home? How does this affect their other financial behaviours and productivity at work?


Alongside our partner organization, IDinsight, a global advisory and research organization that helps development leaders maximize their social impact, and in collaboration with Shahi Exports, India’s biggest apparel export house, we designed a multiple-outcome randomized controlled trial, an experimental and rigorous method of impact evaluation. It studies the effect of digital payments applications training intervention sessions on remittances and financial behavior, as well as on workplace outcomes.

We randomize the implementation of digital payments application training sessions in 19 hostels attached to the factories. Half of the hostels’ room is allocated to treatment, while the other half are in the control arm. The study focuses on behavioral interventions, which could overcome both trust and cognitive barriers. The nudges and behavioral interventions that emerged as an outcome of our design thinking research are:

  1. Training sessions: participants will learn how to use digital payment applications and practice sending and receiving money.
  2. SMS reminders: SMS will be sent on a monthly basis to participants, just after they receive their paychecks, to remind them that they could use digital payment methods to send money back home.

These interventions are aimed at achieving three goals:

  1. Build knowledge of how to use digital payment apps
  2. Develop trust in the apps
  3. Develop habits of using digital payment apps, to shift workers away from their current sub optimal practises of sending money through over-the-counter transactions.

Image credits: Nayantara Parikh

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