Payments and Governance Research Program

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Evaluating the Andhra Pradesh Smartcard Program

Researchers tested how Smartcards, which coupled electronic transfers with biometric authentication, affected the functioning of two important government welfare schemes in India. They found that even though the new Smartcard system was not fully implemented, it resulted in a faster and less corrupt payments process without adversely affecting program access. Investing in Smartcards was cost-effective, and beneficiaries overwhelmingly approved of the new payment system. 

      Academic papers:

     Reports and media coverage

             more media coverage

    Process Monitoring of DBT in India's Public Distribution System: The Experience in Three Union Territories

    In 2016, the Government of India launched direct benefits transfers (DBT) in lieu of food rations provided through the Public Distribution System in three Union Territories (Chandigarh, Puducherry and Dadra and Nagar Haveli).  Under a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding with NITI Aayog and the Department of Food and Public Distribution, Government of India, the Payments and Governance Research Program conducted a process monitoring study of DBT in food from January 2016 to March 2017. The process monitoring comprised three rounds of household surveys conducted with a representative sample in each Union Territory and sought to reveal insights about: (1) Scheme coverage and consistency and regularity of payments; (2) Beneficiary expectations, preferences, and grievances across the old and new schemes; (3) Costs incurred by beneficiaries in both schemes.

         Final report

    Evaluation of the use of Electronic Point of Sale devices in Fair Price Shops in Jharkhand

    The Payments and Governance Research Program is working with the Government of Jharkhand on a randomized evaluation of the impact of introducing biometric authentication in the Public Distribution System (PDS). This study, the first randomized evaluation under this program, aims to provide high-quality evidence on the impact of biometric authentication in the PDS on leakage and beneficiary experiences in a state with challenging terrain and one of India’s highest rates of historically disadvantaged scheduled tribe populations. The study is being carried out across ten districts (with randomization at the block level). A baseline survey for the study was completed in August 2016, and the team is currently completing the endline survey.

         Findings and Recommendations

    • Preliminary results forthcoming in early 2018

    Cash Transfers for Early Childhood Health and Nutrition

    The Payments and Governance Research Program is working with the Department of Women and Child Development in Jharkhand and conducting an experiment under the Integrated Child Development Scheme to test the impact of unconditional cash transfers to pregnant and lactating mothers on early childhood health and nutrition. The project has started in June 2017 and at the Proof of Concept (PoC) phase. 

         Findings and Recommendations

    • Preliminary results forthcoming in 2019