Finance, Competitiveness, and Innovation in Focus

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The series captures the experience, innovative approaches and solutions for development of the World Bank Group covering financial sector topics of relevance to both the public and private sectors. The series is comprised of short knowledge notes, policy notes, case studies, lessons learned or a combination therein. This series was formerly known as Finance in Focus.

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    Promoting E-Commerce in Georgia: Exploring Constraints to Online Participation using Baseline Data from an Experimental Study
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-07-24) Apedo-Amah, Marie Christine ; Coville, Aidan ; Piza, Caio ; Raja, Siddhartha ; Scarpari, Raquel
    E-commerce has the potential to expand market opportunities for businesses. However, it is not guaranteed. The World Development Report on Digital Dividends (World Bank 2016) highlights the importance of complementary analog support that may be needed to ensure people and businesses are able to fully benefit from the opportunities that high-speed, ubiquitous internet can provide. The first step in providing such support is understanding the constraints to adoption. The Competitive Policy Evaluation Lab (ComPEL) is supporting an impact evaluation in Georgia to generate knowledge about the constraints that prevent firms from participating in e-commerce platforms, while also testing an innovative approach to address the identified issues. The study evaluates the ‘Broadband for Development’ (BfD) project, a component of the World Bank-supported Georgia National Innovation Ecosystem (GeNIE) program, that aims to foster innovation, particularly for otherwise marginalized firms. The BfD provides support to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) located outside of the capital, Tblisi, to adopt broadband connections and establish an online retail presence through e-commerce training. Before BfD launched this effort, the research team collected and analyzed baseline data regarding 2,180 eligible firms. The purpose of this note is to explore the baseline results and some implications for BfD, or similar projects supported by the World Bank’s Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation (FCI) Global Practice, within the context of the impact evaluation.
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    Transforming Health through e-Payments in India
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2017) Isern, Jennifer ; Sharma, Anita ; Marin, Georgina
    The World Bank Group (WBG), in collaboration with the Government of Bihar, is implementing a government-to-person (G2P) health payments project with co-funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). The timeliness and integrity of these monetary incentives are key to their effectiveness. In late 2009, WBG began discussions with the State Health Society of Bihar (SHSB) and BMGF about delays and inefficiencies related to conditional incentive payments to health program beneficiaries and health workers. On the basis of those initial discussions, WBG conducted a diagnostic with SHSB on health payments in Bihar in 2010-11. WBG found that health programs in Bihar experienced significant delays (ranging from two months to two years) in making incentive payments and that health officials spent nearly 30 percent of their time administering payments instead of providing health care services. To address those challenges, WBG recommended that SHSB modernize its health payment system by: (a) automating the calculation, verification, and recording of payments; (b) enabling centralized payment processing; and (c) making payments using electronic funds transfers directly into beneficiary bank accounts.
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    Azerbaijan: Leveraging Postal Network for Financial and Social Inclusion
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2016-04) Prigozhina, Angela ; Boon, Johannes
    This paper provides a brief overview of the postal network reform in Azerbaijan and transformation of Azerpost, Azerbaijan’s state postal operator, into an efficient platform for basic financial services delivery throughout the country. This complex reform, supported by the World Bank loan for Financial Services Development Project and the grants from the Swiss Office of International Cooperation (SECO), was launched in 2006 and helped the government of Azerbaijan to improve financial services delivery and inclusion in the country in parallel with modernizing and digitalizing Azerpost, expanding its financial services delivery capacity, enhancing its financial viability and maximizing the public value of Azerpost extensive branch network of 1,600 offices. In the period of 2007-1H2015, Azerpost total revenues, largely from financial services (as universal postal services remain loss-making) tripled, while volume of financial services’ sales increased four times. In 2015, Azerpost reached financial breakeven without state subsidy, and productivity of its staff increased 3 times. In 2009, Azerpost corporatized and became LLC, while in 2010, based on the new postal legislation, it was licensed as a non-bank financial institution subject to prudential supervision of the central bank.