Female migrant workers in India tend to remit money and send a substantial portion of their wages home. Among the population studied, 86% sent remittances home, of which only 5% used digital payment applications to make the transfer, with a few sending cash through someone they know. While many of these workers are aware of the existence of digital payment platforms and may see their value-add, only some trust and fear of loss, and cognitive barriers prevail. Additionally, they face 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.
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? Is having more personalized training more effective than a classroom training format?
Our partner organization in the project is IDinsight, a global advisory and research organization that helps development leaders maximize their social impact. Along with IDinsight and in collaboration with Shahi Exports, India’s biggest apparel export house, we designed a randomized controlled trial to test the effect of training intervention sessions in digital payment applications on remittances and financial behavior. We tested two different models of training to understand the intensity of support that was needed:
During each training session, we collected data on participant success at different points in the process of sending money. Within two days of the training session, participants were sent an SMS message with a video reviewing the steps for using the digital payment application. We sent another reminder SMS to participants just before they received their next salary, including the link to the video and reminding them to use digital payment applications to remit money.
From the study sample of 618 female migrant workers, we randomly assigned two-third of the study sample the type of training they received. One-third of the sample was the control group and did not receive any training.
Training increased usage of digital payment applications, but overall usage was still low. The classroom training increased the use of digital payment applications by 5 percentage points (from 6 percent to 11 percent), and the individualized training increased use by 10 percentage points (from 6 percent to 16 percent).
Lack of knowledge is the main barrier to using digital payment applications. At baseline, 37 percent of the workers did not know that they could send or receive money using their phones. Among those who did know about digital payment applications, over 90 percent were not able to use them due to lack of knowledge on how to download and use digital payment applications Usage of digital payment applications is still low after addressing the knowledge barrier, largely due to the infrastructure requirements for setting up and using UPI technology.