A policy response to the Indian micro-finance crisis

Renuka Sane, Susan Thomas

Recent events in India have brought a fresh focus upon the problem of regulation in the field of micro-finance. This paper delineates the three distinct aspects where government needs to play a role. The first is to protect the rights of the micro-borrower, the consumer of micro-financial services. The second is that of prudential oversight of risk-taking by firms operating in micro-finance, since this could have systemic implications. The third is a developmental role, emphasising scale-up of the micro-finance industry where the key issues are diversification of access to funds, innovations in distribution and product structure, and the use of new technologies such as credit bureaus, the UID and mobile-based payments. Each of these roles need to be placed in an existing or a new regulatory agency. There is a case for creating a new regulatory agency which unifies the consumer protection function across all financial products.

Citation: A policy response to the Indian micro-finance crisis, Renuka Sane, Susan Thomas. IGIDR Working paper WP-2011-007, March 2011.