Four Questions to Ask Bankruptcy Lawyers Before Choosing One

Filing for bankruptcy is a scary prospect, even if you do so voluntarily. There are several different chapters, each with different rules. Hiring qualified bankruptcy lawyers can make the process easier and protect you from your creditors. However, it can be difficult to choose the best attorney for your case. Ask these four questions to get answers that can help you decide.

Do you charge a flat-fee to represent me?

Hiring any attorney costs money. This is particularly troubling when you are considering filing for insolvency, as money is the cause of the problem in the first place. Some legal practitioners bill by the hour. The good news is that most bankruptcy lawyers charge a flat fee for the entire course of representation. Typically, this fee will include consulting with you and analyzing your circumstances, preparing and filing the necessary documents, and representing you during the insolvency proceedings. Sometimes, creditors challenge the bankruptcy. Other times, creditors can still come in and foreclose on a home. Often, the flat-fee does not cover these additional situations. Before choosing from several bankruptcy lawyers, make sure you understand each attorney’s fee arrangement.

Is bankruptcy your primary line of work?

Any licensed attorney can help you file the required paperwork. However, insolvency proceedings involve complex areas of law that do not apply anywhere else. Moreover, deciding what chapter to file involves a detailed analysis of your individual financial situation and expectations. Even a seasoned legal practitioner whose primary work is bringing tort claims or structuring commercial transactions will generally not have the knowledge and skills necessary to adequately protect you from your creditors. You need a legal practitioner who is devoted to handling insolvency cases.

What can I expect from you regarding communication?

It is important to find a legal practitioner whose practice is primarily devoted to handling insolvency cases, but it is equally important to find a legal practitioner who will devote individual attention to your case, because determining the best course of action requires a detailed analysis of your financial situation. You should know how long the legal practitioner will devote to reviewing your situation, how quickly your phone calls will be returned, how frequently the lawyer will update you on case progress, when you can expect pertinent documents to be drafted, and what efforts your advocate will make to cease the creditors’ collection efforts.

Will you have staff who assist you on my case?

Bankruptcy lawyers have a substantial number of clients and will not always be directly available to work on your case. There will be routine matters that will need attention, but do not necessarily require the personal attention of the attorney. It is important that the attorney have staff or junior lawyers available to work on the case when the primary legal practitioner is not directly available. However, you should also make sure that the attorney handling the case will personally review the work of junior lawyers and non-attorney staff members.

Aiming for a Greener Financial System

In the year 2015, being a person who likes to stay abreast of the various political and economic activities, I was often confused with the term ‘Green Finance’. Moreover, the excessive use of this term in G20 pushed me to learn more about it and provide an understanding to you as well.

Green finance can be described as an umbrella term which refers to the changes in financial flows that are required to support projects that not only help the environment but also the society. Pollution, air quality, water quality, greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency and renewable energies are certain genres that are covered under green finance.

To meet the aspiring goal of the Paris treaty, it is important to align the green growth and financial sector. If we talk about green finance in the long-term, we should be happy to know that it has ample opportunities for profitable investments in developed and developing economies. Investing in green economy will set the course for carbon footprints. The only need at the minute is a step change in greening the financial system. There is a rising awareness in the financial system related to sustainability risks, commercial opportunities and changing customer preferences. The government has smoothened these developments through national roadmaps, sectoral guidelines and policy signaling. The economy is witnessing a competitive urge between financial centers and companies for green finance leadership.

An accepted green finance will always constitute a right proportion of policy action and market. Below are certain actions which can be helpful for an effective market action:

Connecting environmental risks analysis with core business activities
Feeding back into the policy process
Driving the environmental risk analysis
Anchoring sustainability, and
Controlling financial technology to strengthen retail demand.

The authorities should be able to shape effective policies to minimize market failures and create conditions which help in the growth of green finance. Apart from using policy packages with fiscal policy and environmental reforms, there should be an involvement to support the greening of financial markets with options such as:

Supporting data provisions and capacity building
Using the limited public means effectively, and
Creating a smart and well-organized incentive system.

After the government, multilateral development banks and international financial banks have also an important role to play, with options like:

Streamlining governance structures and portfolios according to the Paris agreement
Using methods to strengthen environmental guidelines, and
Promoting financial market development and filling project pipelines.

Since the Paris treaty, businesses have initiated that streak of competitiveness at various levels of the financial system. The global financial centers such as London, Shanghai, or Paris are preparing themselves as global green finance centers – this and many more to lure specialized companies. Designing smart market systems and policies, in order to maximize the positive effects in the long-term can be a strong approach towards scaling-up the green finance.

Developing countries encounter major investment gaps and receive a small share of the green financial flow. This is the case when these developing economies offer huge opportunities for long-term green investment in areas such as transport, agriculture, infrastructure and energy. There are a number of developing countries which are advertising green bond roadmaps, highlighting the potential for green finance. Though, the various effects of an updated version of environmental risk analysis need to be understood to manage possible development policy implications. The UN environment is developing a range of options to make the most of the combined activities of green finance and sustainable development

Defining Inflation

Inflation is a steady rise in prices, owing to which, incomes and savings of the population will depreciate. Even the weakest inflation is dangerous for the development of the modern monetary economy. Therefore, all countries (including the most developed ones), take anti-inflationary measures to reduce inflation rates.

What causes?

Inflation – a monetary phenomenon associated with issuance of excessive money for circulation compared with the supply of goods. This increase in money occurs for various reasons. And the first of them is the growth of incomes of the population, not supported by a corresponding increase in the production of goods. This excessive demand pushes up prices and increases inflation rate. This imbalance between supply and demand for goods and services can also be resulted by crop failures, import restrictions, or actions of the monopolists. Also, rising costs of the production and increasing expenses of enterprises for wages, taxes, interest payments and others highly contributes to increase of inflation rates. Furthermore, the increase in prices for imported components shows both an increase in world prices and weakening of the national currency. The weakened national currency can directly affect the prices of the final products imported from abroad. The overall effect of exchange rate changes on price dynamics is called the “transfer effect” and is often viewed as a separate inflation factor. An essential role in the development of the inflationary process is played by the so-called waiting moments. The expected rise in prices forces the population to buy goods. Thus, a deficit is created for some of them, and, consequently, prices are rising. It is difficult to bring down such inflationary expectations.

Inflation can take many forms. In a regulated economy (such existed in the USSR), as well as in wartime conditions, when prices are fixed, it can have a hidden character – this is so-called suppressed inflation. It is followed by the deficit of many products, a surge in shadow trade, a sharp increase in prices in the markets, etc. However, the repudiation of such regulation (after the war or in countries that have passed from an administratively regulated to a market economy) often generates “galloping inflation” with a frenzied price increase. It arises from the discrepancy between the supply of money and the insufficient quantity of goods.
The other forms of inflation include:

- Administrative inflation – the inflation generated by “administratively” operated prices;

- Galloping inflation – inflation in the form of spasmodic increase in prices;

- Hyperinflation – inflation with very high growth rate of the prices;

- Built- in inflation – characterized by the average level for a certain period of time;

- Imported inflation – the inflation caused by influence of external factors, for example excessive inflow to the country of foreign currency and increase in import prices;

-Induced inflation – the inflation caused by influence of factors of the economic nature, external factors;

- Credit inflation – the inflation caused by excessive credit expansion;

- Unforeseen inflation – the rate of inflation which has appeared above expected for a certain period;

- Expected inflation – the estimated rate of inflation in future period owing to action of factors of the current period;

- Open inflation – inflation due to increase in prices of consumer goods and production resources;

Negative Consequences of High Inflation

High inflation rate decreases purchasing power of all economic entities which negatively affects demand, the economic growth, the standards of living of the population, and moods in society. Depreciation of the income narrows opportunities and undermines incentives to saving that interferes with formation of a steady financial basis for investment. Besides, high inflation is accompanied by the increased uncertainty which complicates decision-making of economic entities. Overall inflation negatively influences savings, consumption, production, investments and general conditions for sustainable development of economy.

How to decrease?

Fighting inflation, as the experience of developed countries shows, is extremely difficult. It seems easy: freezing prices or introduce some form of regulation for prices. Unfortunately, this method is effective for a short time only. The freezing of prices will soon be triggered by an increase in the deficit of goods and will further exacerbate inflation. The other method of fighting inflation is through contractionary monetary policy. The aim of this policy is to reduce the money supply within an economy by increasing interest rates. This helps to reduce spending because those who have money want to keep it and save it, instead of spending it. It also means less available credit, which also reduces spending.

The Invention of Man That Is Destroying the World

Money, finance, the economy, and the impending end of the world are all linked and the reason is obvious. Greed and wealth creation is first and foremost in the minds of most who see nothing wrong with destroying the environment and taking whatever they can from others. Their goal is hoarding as much as they can while showing the rest of the world how great they are. What they don’t know is how poor they are.

Following my reincarnation and with a strong link to the Spirit of the Universe it has led me to see the big picture. At a time shown to me between lives it called to take me away from the world and teach me what life is about.

It’s a simple story but one that would be above the heads of most who try to understand it in the light of religious teachings and the greed that has impacted the earth. This is our only planet on which we can live and yet man is destroying it at a great rate of knots to make money and stick it in the bank or some investment portfolio.

Can they in all honesty believe that this is the purpose of their lives. Yet it would seem that it is exactly what they were put here to do.

My first commission is to tear down the wall of blindness and recover God’s people who are caught up behind a wall of lies and confusion. In fulfilling that goal it was important to understand how and why things have developed to this point. We are on the brink of destruction and the earth and all life on it is at risk.

That wall is built by man’s imagination and false gods that have been created to explain life and death. In their efforts to be powerful men devised heaven and hell and used them as tools to rope others in to their opinions and dreams. If they could convince others of their own convictions, then for them they became true.

That’s why religions are now so powerful and rich. The leaders know nothing of the Spirit and they push money ahead of common sense. Through trade and then domination of nations riches became more important than life itself and all one needs do is look at how many suicide when they face financial ruin.

Money is nothing! It has no place in the function of the world except that the Spirit is using it to bring life to an end. Those hungry enough to be caught in its web are overseeing the disaster. That’s according to the prophecies in the Old Testament that promise this day would come.

Norma Holt has researched to establish why Money is the root of evil. It is largely based on the work of 666. He enforced the powerful weapons of heaven and hell to dominate the establishment he put in place.

Basics of Revenue Recognition Audits

Revenue Recognition accounting is a process that depicts how sales transactions are recorded by a company in financial statements. While recording revenue, companies are mandated to comply with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). As per GAAP, in order to book a sale as revenue, the revenue should be recognized initially. Consequently, for a revenue to get recognized, it should be Earned and Realizable Revenue.

It reviews the accounting techniques of revenue recognition that are adopted by a company. This audit thus assures that the recorded information is compliant with National Accounting Standards which stand mandatory for a firm.

Revenue Recognition Audit procedures:

For a successful Revenue Recognition Auditing process, Planning is a key element. This process thus initiates with analyses of revenue recognition policies and techniques of a company. Thus ensuring the company’s compliance with the desired audit procedures. After satisfying their doubts, the auditing comes to the second level that involves the analyses of contracts of that year. Material Contracts are then separated from the lot. Auditors invest their time to test whether those contracts are recognized aptly. Along with this, they ensure that the financial statement contains receivable and deferred accounts. Besides reviewing the Material Contracts, auditors also pay heed to the one which is not material to ensure that even they recognize the revenue aptly.

Important Aspects of Revenue Recognition Audit:

Reviewing General Ledger:

When an Auditor/Accountant analyzes a General Ledger it provides them with a lot of substantive evidence and thus initiates lesser procedural tests. General Ledger is reviewed to have knowledge as to how the sales are recorded in that particular firm. The information that concerns Revenue Recognition Audit includes the sold goods, the date when it was delivered and the mode of payment used to do so. It ensures that General Ledger is in accordance with the actual sale transactions of the firm. While auditing, even the Revenue Recognition Policies of a company can also be considered.

Analysing the Financial Statements:

For a detailed overview of the company’s finances, auditors look out for financial statement of an organization. Then a comparison follows between General Ledger and the statement deduced, to look out for dissimilarity that exists. Auditors are well acknowledged about the importance of financial statement; as the stakeholders evaluate a firm by the information provided by that.

Combating Risks in Receivable Accounts:

Accounts of high-profit sales of a firm can be studied by an auditor in Receivable Accounts. The information mentioned by them is cross-checked by the auditors with the original sale invoices. Primary risk that exists is that the net receivables might be overstated, because either receivable have been overstated, or the allowance for uncollectible accounts has been understated. Revenue Recognition Audit ensures that the company’s account balance mentioned is legitimate.

Accrued/Deferred Revenue:

While recording revenue, firms may incorporate accrual or deferrals. Auditors stay skeptical regarding accruals and deferrals to ensure that the real transactions are mentioned and do not contain wrong invoices.

What are the Prerequisites for a Revenue Recognition auditor?

An Auditor is required to have complete knowledge of complications prevailing in revenue recognition’s auditing and accounting. Active participation of employees should be fostered by the auditors for smooth auditing.

Internal control in an organization is a continuous process to collect, analyze and update information during an audit. Thus mandating internal control; as the responsibility of an auditor. An Auditor then evaluates the appropriateness of finances.

Financial Skills – Writing Checks & Paying Bills

I was surprised when I asked parents to tell me the life skills they wish their kids knew, and there was a resounding request for a few topics:

How to open a bank account
How to budget & balance accounts
How to write checks and pay bills
And how to start saving for retirement

It seems some of the things we take for granted are, as a result, missing from what we teach kids.

In the last article, we focused on budgeting & balancing accounts. We even looked at games and contests you could set up for your kids. This article is the third article in the four-part series and will look at how to teach kids to write checks and pay bills.

Paying Bills

I was a bit surprised when several parents recently reported they had teens that were going to pay a bill by sending cash. I guess the obvious isn’t so obvious.

Paying bills is often done online, so it’s important to teach kids how to protect their identity online and store their login information where it can’t be stolen or accessed.

However, there are still quite a few companies that don’t offer online payments, and the only way to pay their bills is via check in the mail.

All kids should know why you NEVER send cash, and how to write a check specifically for paying a bill. For example: putting your account number and any other required details in the memo.

This brings us to the next topic: writing checks.

Writing Checks

When I was 12 years old, I went to outdoor ed. Oddly enough, part of the experience was that we could only write checks to buy goodies there, and our parents put a certain amount in our accounts so that we would also have to budget and balance our register.

Most of the kids were nervous! They weren’t sure how to fill out a check, and it was a great learning experience. I remember being nervous because we were required to fill out the amount in cursive, and I had trouble fitting it into the space.

These days, many kids never even think about writing checks because there are so many other means of transacting much more common; however, I’ve still found myself in need of checks for bills, paying contractors, and even helping me out of a pinch when I’ve forgotten my wallet.

Additionally, in my previous articles, I’ve expressed the dangers of using and relying on a debit card.

So how do you get your kids to learn how to write checks, and why would they care?

Getting Kids Involved

The best and most interactive way to teach kids to work a checkbook is to come up with a reason for them to write checks.

Here’s how it’s done:

Give your kids an old checkbook, play checkbook, or make your own (complete with a register). Then tell them in order to get certain things around the house, they’ll need to write checks. For example, to use their electronic device, there’s a rental fee that requires them to write you a check.

In addition, you can also give them a budget for the month to help them balance and budget their spending. You should balance a separate register so you can compare at the end of the month for accuracy.

Kids absolutely love this game.

Here are a few things you can charge for:

Using electronic devices
Watching TV (by the hour)
Special snacks or treats
Bicycle rental fee
Getting out of a chore (limited usage)

At the end of the month, if your kids keep a positive balance they get a prize. If you have more than one kid, whoever is the most accurate in balancing their register can also get a prize.

A variation is to cut off the privileges if they run out of money. Some think this is harsh, but it does mimic the real world.

Writing checks is simple, and most kids love to learn because they feel more like an adult in the process.

In the next article, we’ll discuss how to start saving for retirement. It could make the difference of over $200,000!

You can find the previous article here.

Arm your kids with financial skills and hacks…

Check out this free lesson and video tutorial to start saving for college and getting financial aid at PrepareMyKid…

Getting Financial Aid

Financial Skills – Opening a Bank Account

I was surprised when I asked parents to tell me the life skills they wish their kids knew, and there was a resounding request for kids to learn how to open a bank account.

Similarly, there was a huge call out for:

How to budget & balance accounts
How to write checks and pay bills
And how to start saving for retirement

It seems some of the things we take for granted are, as a result, missing from what we teach kids.

This article is the first article in the four-part series and will discuss the best and simplest way to get started with opening a bank account.

It seems easy, but there are several questions many people never think of that we’ll address in this article:

Which bank?
Checking or savings account?
Are there fees or minimum balances?
Should I get a Debit Card too?
Should I have my name on the account with my kid?

1. Choosing a Bank

When you choose a bank, there are a few criteria you’ll want to look at:

Location
Number of branches
Ease of access

The location should be convenient to your home, but also have enough branches so that – in the case of an emergency – you can get to your bank.

I opened an account with Elevations Credit Union when I was attending CU Boulder. It was convenient and credit unions are really great to bank with. However, after I graduated and moved, there were no branches around me, which made things very inconvenient. I ended up opening an account with US Bank since they are in about every King Soopers, where I do my grocery shopping.

This is especially important with kids because you don’t want them to have to drive too far just to bank.

Similarly, ease of access into the branch is important. I remember having a Norwest (now Wells Fargo) account, and getting in and out of the bank’s parking lot was terrible. I had several near-miss car accidents and dreaded even going to the bank.

2. Checking or Savings Account

As you’ll learn in the future article about saving and budgeting, there should be an account that is used for saving and investing.

That means it’s important to have BOTH a checking and savings account.

The reason a checking account is important, is so that kids can learn how to write checks, and have a designated spending account aside from a designated savings account.

Checking accounts are important for paying bills (be it online or via mail) and will give kids the opportunity to learn how to write checks. Even if check writing isn’t as prevalent as it once was, it’s still important.

I was shopping one day and realized I forgot my wallet, which had my credit cards and cash. I started to panic because I needed some food. Fortunately, I keep a couple of checks in the car and was able to save myself by writing a check… they still come in handy!

3. Fees & Minimum Balances

Some banks have fees to have an account and others don’t. Obviously get the one that doesn’t since your kid shouldn’t have a huge account. Likewise make sure there isn’t a minimum balance or a very small ($10 or less) minimum balance.

Just as important is how overdrafts are handled!

When I was in college, it never failed: my peers (who hadn’t learned how to balance an account) would routinely trigger their overdraft protection and the hefty fees that went along with it.

They would look at their balance online and it would show $10. Then they’d check it again a few days later and it was at $30.

It was the magical growing bank account; and they never wondered where the extra money came from. Until the end of the month when they had over $200 in overdraft protection fees!

I would suggest NOT getting overdraft protection and instead making darn sure they can balance their account (which we’ll cover in a future article).

4. What About a Debit Card?

Here’s my thoughts on kids having debit cards: it makes it much, much harder to balance the bank account while making it much easier to overspend and run into trouble.

Are ATM machines convenient? Yes, but I have never once used one in my entire life. Part of teaching kids life skills is to teach them to be prepared. I keep an extra $10 in cash plus a few checks in my car. It wouldn’t bother me if it got stolen.

If you’re determined that your kid gets a debit card, wait at least six months after opening their account so they can learn “the old fashioned way” and understand how the debit card affects their account when they actually start using it.

5. Should I Be On The Account Too?

I think it’s a very good idea for you to be on your kid’s first account so you can monitor their spending and make sure they don’t cause a train wreck.

It’s good to get statements so that you can use that as a learning experience to go over them with your kid and teach them how to properly dispose of them (in a shredder) so that they decrease their risk of identity theft.

Come up with a time frame or benchmarks until you pull yourself off the account and let your kid take on the responsibility of an individual account.

Opening a bank account is a huge step into a new world for kids and it should be a great experience. Walk your kids through the setup and look for the learning opportunities along the way.

Everything You Must Know Before Selecting a Bankruptcy Attorney

Before making the decision to file for bankruptcy, it is important to realize that there are four different types of ways individuals and companies can file. Your bankruptcy attorney will be able to help you determine whether you should file for Chapter 7, 11, 12, or 13. Chapters 7 and 13 are personal options. On the other hand, chapters 11 and 12 are for corporations and those in the agricultural business.

The first step you will need to take in order to select a bankruptcy attorney is to search for lawyers in your area that practice in the appropriate Chapter you will be filing. There are some lawyers that focus on personal finances, while others may simply focus on businesses. Some firms may do a mix of both. More general firms that practice a wide variety of law are also an option. When it comes to filing on behalf of an individual, many firms choose to file Chapter 7. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the least complicated way to file.

When selecting a bankruptcy attorney, it is best to seek someone with experience in the field. You are going to want someone who knows what they are doing and is highly knowledgeable when it comes to settling your finances. If you choose to go with an individual as opposed to a firm, it is best to ask if the lawyer has a reference source that he or she uses in the event they are unfamiliar with a particular part of your case. When choosing a firm, all of the members of the practice can work together if a problem arises. Firms are likely to have individuals who are knowledgeable in a wide variety of areas; making all references in-house. Remember, even the slightest mistake can cause your case to be dismissed.

Find out if the person you choose is going to be available to answer your questions. Find out how long it may take for return calls and what happens if your lawyer is unavailable when a need arises. Is there a backup option in place? In order to head down the road to financial freedom, you are going to need someone that is available.

Before making your decision, be sure to check references. Most firms will provide you with a list of clients that they have worked with in the past. Make a few phone calls to see what others have to say before making your decision. When you are not in good financial standing, asking friends and family for their advice may be the last thing you want to do. However, they may be able to provide you with a reference for a bankruptcy attorney.

Finding the person that is going to represent your case is not a decision that should be taken lightly. When it comes to your finances, experience and professionalism are extremely important.

Opportunities for Africa to Deepen Financial Inclusion and Development

When people can participate in the financial systems, they are better able to start and expand businesses, invest in their children’s education, and absorb financial shocks.

Sub-Saharan Africa has a population with most lives being at the economic downstream, and most likely underdeveloped. The financial inclusion gender gap and income gap persisting just like in other continents, though higher in Sub-Saharan Africa. World Population estimates based on the latest estimates released on June 21, 2017, by the United Nations, shows Africa continues as the second largest continent with a population of 1,256,268,025 (16% of the population of the world) and by the end of January 2018, 40.2% living in urban areas.

The continent has the highest fertility rate of 4.7% (Oceania 2.4%, Asia 2.2%, Latin American and Caribbean 2.1%, Northern America 1.9% and Europe 1.6%) compared to the other continents with a yearly population rate change (increase) of 2.55% – the highest among all continents. Most of its people (59.8%) have lived downstream (rural areas and villages) sometimes out of the mainstream economy. Policy targeting could be difficult in such scenarios, and identifying people who lack access to financial and economic inclusion comes with a huge financial cost in itself, though the benefit in doing so outweighs the cost in mere numbers and requires commitment from leaders and managers of the respective economies. Coupled with a universal phenomenon of non-perfect, untrusted, and in some cases non-existing data on the continent, that could make decision making imperfect and data unreliable, affecting plans, policies and the potencies to resolve stated challenges or improving the economic and social fibre of countries.

The struggles of the financially excluded come from barriers and reasons as access, social and cultural factors, income, education and many possible lists of others. Financial exclusion arguably is one of the reasons some economic policies lack potency to effectively target well on the citizenry with its results in persistent poverty and inequality. Lack of access to basic needs like an account either at the bank or mobile money could mean significant possibilities of opportunities untapped. Globally countries have realized the importance of achieving inclusive societies and supports efforts at maximizing financial inclusion. Sub- Saharan Africa has made some strides over the years in financial and economic inclusion in this regard at individual country levels.

Efforts ongoing in Ghana include a commitment to promoting and prioritizing financial inclusion. The country made specific and concrete commitments to further advance financial inclusion under the “Maya Declaration“ since 2012 and has an ambitious target of achieving 75% Universal financial inclusiveness of its adult population by 2020. Ghana currently has 58% of its adult population having access to financial services and is also finalizing its National Financial Inclusion Strategy which will become the guiding document and reference for inclusive actions, stakeholder roles and responsibilities spelt out for all.

Kenya, however, has earned global recognition in leading the all others in the world in mobile money account penetration, and with twelve other sub-Saharan African Countries following, researchers show. The rate at which African countries are projecting innovation technology for digital financial inclusion is impressive. The country has made giant strides in its financial inclusion commitments, especially under the Maya Declaration.

There has been some paradigm shift in Information and Communication Technology and its importance which is being considered as a factor of economic growth. ICT has the ability to provide services with minimal cost, improve innovation, and provide infrastructure for convenient and easy to use services, it can also provide a route to access many auxiliary financial services.

At the macro level, digital innovation influence economic development and economic policy effectiveness.The benefits ICT enabled financial services include the possible creation of employment- mobile money vendors, increases in revenue receipts of government, helps firms productivity (both private and public), aid in cost control and efficiencies, and Could contribute to rural development and governance: Governance and revenue mobilization efforts, especially at local government levels, can be enhanced through ICT which aids in overall improvement in corporate governance. Importantly, Innovation Technology can help in the deepening of financial inclusion either through access, usage, reducing risk and improving quality of services, thus, per formula for Financial Inclusion (FI), thus, FI = (Unlocking Access + Unlocking Usage + Quality) – Risk.

Access to financial services can generate economic activities-Sophisticated use of financial services even presents bigger economic and social possibilities for the included. In Mexico, a research by Bruhn and Love revealed that, there were huge impacts in the economy in Mexico, that is, 7% increase in all income levels (in the local community) when Banco Azteca had rapid openings of branches in over a thousand Grupo Elektra retail stores when compared to other communities that branches were not opened. Also the savings proportion by those households in the local community reduced by 6.6%, a situation attributed to the fact that households were able to rely less on savings as a buffer against income fluctuation when formal credit became available.

Here, it must be noted that through savings is encouraged, the reduction in savings by 6.6% means more funds can rather be channeled for investments into economically viable entities or services. As the cycle continues, and in sophisticated use of financial services along the financial services value chain, they will need to save however for other investments later. Similar or even more positive correlation is observed if the medium of access and usage is through innovative technology.

Using Digital Financial Inclusion Strategies in Humanitarian Services

Despite the use and usefulness of financial services in crises situations, financial exclusion is particularly acute among crisis-affected countries. 75% of adults living in countries with humanitarian crises remains outside of the formal financial system and struggle to respond to shocks and emergencies, build up productive assets, and invest in health, education, and business.

Researchers continue to show the growth in acceptance of electronic payments especially through the use of mobile phones. There is growing evidence supporting digital financial inclusion. GSMA in its reports revealed that there were 93 countries between the periods of 2006-2016 of with 271 mobile money operating service providers which had registered over 400 million accounts globally. They give some evidence in some countries – which have been receiving humanitarian assistance- where there is growing acceptance of digital financial inclusion through use of a phone.

In Rwanda significant numbers of refugees used phones for mobile money services whiles some do so commercially for service fees. In Uganda, Refugee communities are noted for use of mobile money service as per the report. This has necessitated MNO Orange Uganda, a telecommunication firm to expand mobile money service to refugee communities by building a communication tower to improve access and usage of the services. In Pakistan, one of the largest refugee communities- third largest- has the government using mobile money for cash transfers to refugees. The evidence abounds and this calls for humanitarian agencies to rethink and reconsider digital inclusive financial services beyond the current numbers. In Lebanon (The largest refugee community) those on humanitarian assistance uses ATM issued by aid organizations to access their cash transfers.

Sarah Bailey, however, observed that humanitarian areas that were receiving cash transfers through mobile money could increase the use of certain services but does not automatically lead to widespread or sustained uptake. People may prefer to continue using informal financial systems that are more familiar, accessible and profitable. Her study revealed that that, the provision of humanitarian e-transfers, even when combined with training, was not sufficient to enable the vast majority of participants to conduct mobile money transactions independently.

The findings are certainly acceptable in the short run per our knowledge. However, on a long-term basis and with financial capability activities – not just training- the results could possibly be different. Financial capability activities deal with not just training and education, but the overall financial health and well-being of the people. And this should be done in a hierarchy- bits-by-bits- and not at a one leap jump approach. This seems to have been echoed by the United Nations. According to Ban Ki-moon as cited in advised that we must return our focus to the people at the centre of these crises, moving beyond short-term, supply-driven response efforts towards demand-driven outcomes that reduce need and vulnerability. Financial inclusion strategies may not lead to widespread uptake within a few days, but evidence abounds that in a long-term, it could.

The thirteen countries in the world with the most mobile money penetration today had some being on humanitarian support just a few years back-. Sustained access and use of innovative technology for inclusion then would have a better impact on them the more today.

Undertaking a case study on the use of digital means for humanitarian transfer will show that in the short term run there may be lack of interest or even rejection. Coupled with regulatory barriers and other barriers mentioned, people during a humanitarian crisis may not really be thinking much of connecting to the economic system on the whole or how their support comes (This is the business of policymakers on humanitarian service) but rather be much interested in survival within a short run. The psychology of that period of need is centred on – What is needed is the urgency of support – money – physical cash in most cases to enable them to get the basics of security and food with the most liquid instrument. Humanitarian communities have needs just as all other communities within the financial services need a framework.

Indeed evidence suggests there have been few instances only worldwide where the use of digital transfers in humanitarian transfers has led to widespread use of services. Digital transfers in humanitarian services must be a process and done within the particular context of time. In this sense, the digital strategies must be humanitarian, and must embed in the social and behavioural change financial capability activities capable of two-way communications with practices on usage and the benefits it brings in the long term- It must be in a hierarchy. Simple financial needs should be met before sophisticated needs. Any deviation will of course results in lack of interest in the services.

Howard Thomas observed that “Financial technology still leaves out swathes of people, and this means missed opportunities for development,” And in some cases, community structures may not be innovative or agile enough to allow new technologies to spread, he adds. “Savvy entrepreneurs are not necessarily from established authorities. Sometimes it’s a matter of identifying individual leaders, networks or pathways through which to promote new technologies.”

Indeed there have been some lessons however on how to manage humanitarian remittance, the parameters, however, are that financial inclusion is a continuous and sustaining effort of providing access and usage of financial services in a sustaining and responsible manner which meets the needs within a reduced risk – it is not just one time project of implementation policies at speed but rather concentrate on meeting the basic before sophisticated needs. Within a humanitarian certain, a complex multiplicity of issues may serve as barriers to using digital financial services including location and urgent needs; however those barriers when managed within a considerable period and coupled with financial capability activities (the act of complete financial well-being), then favourable results would be achieved.

The use of behavioural change financial capability education, training and practice into humanitarian communication on digital transfers would help in improvement in the uphill acceptance over a period of time. sub-Saharan African countries have been realizing some tremendous gains in the use of innovative technology, and expansion of ICT services and infrastructure on the continent. Its study time past points out those countries on the continent totally made revenues amounting to 5% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from telecommunication related services as compared to European countries where revenues from the telecommunication services represented 2.9% of their total GDP.

Sub-Africans Countries need repositioning and further investment in the “digital economy” in order to open up and benefit fully inclusiveness of their economy. Here our interest is in mobile technology and innovation which is the critical avenue that Africa could use mostly in achieving financial inclusion within the short to long term.

Kenya is making giant strides and leading the way in digital innovation for mobile financial services globally. Researchers have shown that sub-Sahara Africa countries are leading the technological innovation drive in the usage of mobile financial services.Kenya and other Sub-Saharan African nations are making the greatest strides in mobile money accounts penetration and with lots of opportunities foreseen. Globally the thirteen countries that mobile account penetration has been over 10 %, all 13 are from Africa -Botswana, Cote d’ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Kenya, Somalia, Rwanda, Namibia, Tanzania, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe (ranging from 10%-58% for the 13 countries).

Kenya is leading at 58% mobile money account penetration, with Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda “following closely” reporting around 35%. Namibia out of 13 countries has the least of mobile money penetration of about 10% (still higher than all others in the world except the other 12 African countries). Mobile money account is recorded to be widespread in East Africa (20% and 10% of adults have mobile money accounts and mobile money account only respectively) than any other region.

Firms providing financial services, be it services or infrastructure is the most important and unique set of stakeholders who should be encouraged to take the lead roles in financial inclusion activities and implementations. Financial services firms are uniquely positioned, to use their existing infrastructure and leverage to creating access, and usage of digital financial services.

They do so effectively and at a lesser cost as compared to government agencies because they can do so through their already existing departments as the marketing and customer service departments. Financial services firms are driving innovation for digital finance across the globe. Firms as GCAP have been investing in solutions to accelerate financial inclusion. It announced that in its call for proposals on innovative digital technology with huge potential to advancing the financial inclusion drive in sub-Saharan Africa, out of the over 200 applicants and proposals submitted, Financial Technology (Fintech) firms submitted (56%), Financial Services Providers (18%), Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) (13%) and Technology Services Providers (9%).

Growing evidence from other similar calls suggests that there is a trend, that the journey of using innovative technology and financial inclusion in the sub-Saharan African is not only picking up but even shows a rather promising outlook for the future, the opportunities for countries in the region are enormous for nations in advancing financial inclusion.

The call now is for countries at their policy levels to position themselves, armed with policies and willingness of governments to support and collaborate with the private sector to drive financial inclusion activities. However, to further enhance financial and economic for much better gain is a continues process and does not take just a few days but undoubtedly without collaborations between public-private role and decision establishment and support, it will take us rather too long. Collaboration is therefore important for financial inclusion drives and actions.

For governments or the public sector, their support in creating the needed supportive framework and regulations for the industry is important. Regulations and environment that supports innovation and drives whiles customer rights are supported are so much needed in this sector. In providing support and helping in creating an environment for financial inclusion activities to make the required impacting effects, government policies must have some balance of care. By doing so, any policy by a government on financial inclusion that does not take views from other important stakeholders may be implemented at last, but not without difficulties and in some case unreasonable delay in implementation.

This can be attributed to a variety of reasons: more importantly, policies may be concluded, but if Financial services providers are not ready or not able to implement those policies, then, problems of “distressed“ policies then begin to show. In financial inclusion drives, success depends mostly on collaborations for improvement between the public-private sectors.

The Opportunities for sub-Saharan African Economies
The opportunities exist for groups of people who need access and usage of financial services yet unable because of the barriers they confront mostly. Sub-Saharan African governments and private stakeholders can improve on the regulatory constraints and allow for the tap in technology innovation respectively to design solutions that will open access and usage of financial services

An important Segment of organized groups usually out of the formal financial economy thus, the “Savings Groups” always have their common values and beliefs most often deeply rooted with cultural and social entrenchment that must be considered when targeting with financial inclusion products and designs.

The groups usually common in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin American come together for social and economic benefits and supports. They have different specific objectives but commonly among reasons are for group savings, group insurance, good trading and all kinds of group support systems. At best design of product and services for “savings groups” if the top is successfully accepted can only be through a consultative process, sometimes customized or tailor-made services (most appropriate where possible) and winning the genuine interest of the groups.

There are over 14 million members of “Savings Groups” across 75 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Latin America, representing a promising platform for financial inclusion in under-served markets. Savings Groups offer an entry point for financial service providers to isolated communities; they are organized, experience and disciplined; they aggregate demand across many low-income clients, and they have identified needs that financial service providers can address. Also, these groups are very goal oriented and purposeful but lack certain financial services- Some basic needs like accounts and payments and others sophisticated needs like saving platforms. Tailoring products to meet these segments who lack access to some financial services and are in need of those financial services would create opportunities for financial inclusiveness.

Prioritization of digital payments is one way of minimizing corruption within expenditures, be it the private or public sector. Digitizing payments means better tracking of records of payments throughout the value chain of spending and transfers. In the Agriculture economy, it means that when the government pays 1 million dollars ($1.000.000.00) directly through “mobile money` to its citizenry for goods and services, then its most likely that, subject to cost of the transaction, farmers will receive their funds intact and same. The vulnerable citizen would then have value for money in dealing with the government whiles having to benefit from the opportunities that having an account and using it comes with. Such is not the case when physical cash changes hands in payments.

The adoption level of digital financial inclusion with mobile money is generally high for sub-Saharan African. Stakeholders in the Public in the region can leverage its strong foundation and application of mobile money services to scale up the use of digital payments, but courses they must be the backing infrastructure to expand access as well. Increase in account ownership as a foremost financial inclusion indicator has primarily been through financial institutions except those recorded in Africa where mobile money accounts drove the growth in accounts ownership from 24% to 34% in 2011 and 2014 respectively.

An area Africa is making giant strides – Mobile money account penetration. Accounts ownership and its definition have changed over just three years when Global Findex Database launched its first data for comparable indicators among countries on financial inclusion. In 2014 it considered mobile money accounts as recognized accounts in their right, hitherto in 2011 that wasn’t the case. The opposite was rather the accepted case, and rightly so. Today the digital disruptions in the financial, telecommunication and economic arena are having is impacts.

For policymakers and private sector stakeholders, more keenly important is the fact that 5 of the thirteen sub-Saharan African countries (The only five in the world) – Somalia, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire, Tanzania and Zimbabwe have an adult population with more mobile account than they have from a formal traditional financial institution. What this means is that, in those five countries, an ordinary man on the street is more likely to have, use, trust and save in a mobile money account or wallet than saving with a traditional formal bank account. This comes with enormous opportunities and breakthroughs. Digital payments are comfortable, fast and less expensive than physical cash payments platforms.

Tailoring products to meet these segments who lack access to some financial services and are in need of those financial services would create opportunities for financial inclusiveness. Prioritization of digital payments is one way of minimizing corruption within expenditures, be it the private or public sector. Digitizing payments means better tracking of records of payments throughout the value chain of spending and transfers. In the Agriculture economy, it means that when the government pays 1 million dollars ($1.000.000.00) directly through “mobile money` to its citizenry for goods and services, then its most likely that, subject to cost of the transaction, farmers will receive their funds intact and same. The vulnerable citizen would then have value for money in dealing with the government whiles having to benefit from the opportunities that having an account and using it comes with. Such is not the case when physical cash changes hands in payments

The adoption level of digital financial inclusion with mobile money is generally high for sub-Saharan African. Stakeholders in the Public in the region can leverage its strong foundation and application of mobile money services to scale up the use of digital payments, but courses they must be the backing infrastructure to expand access as well. Increase in account ownership as a foremost financial inclusion indicator has primarily been through financial institutions except those recorded in Africa where mobile money accounts drove the growth in accounts ownership from 24% to 34% in 2011 and 2014 respectively.

An area Africa is making giant strides – Mobile money account penetration. Accounts ownership and its definition have changed over just three years when Global Findex Database launched its first data for comparable indicators among countries on financial inclusion. In 2014 it considered mobile money accounts as recognized accounts in their right, hitherto in 2011 that wasn’t the case. The opposite was rather the accepted case, and rightly so.

Today the digital disruptions in the financial, telecommunication and economic arena are having is impacts. For policymakers and private sector stakeholders, more keenly important is the fact that 5 of the thirteen sub-Saharan African countries (The only five in the world) – Somalia, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire, Tanzania and Zimbabwe have an adult population with more mobile account than they have from a formal traditional financial institution. What this means is that, in those five countries, an ordinary man on the street is more likely to have, use, trust and save in a mobile money account or wallet than saving with a traditional formal bank account. This comes with enormous opportunities and breakthroughs. Digital payments are comfortable, fast and less expensive than physical cash payments

Recommendations
1) Regional and sub-regional bodies in sub-Saharan Africa should take up the financial inclusion drive as a priority and ensure peer-to-peer commitments of its members based on individual country socio-economic dynamics.
2) Each sub-Saharan African country should develop a National Financial Inclusion Strategy in a highly consultative manner at their country levels to guide their efforts.
3) Sub-Saharan African governments should continuously support ongoing literature and research work on Financial and Economic inclusion to provide reliable data will guide the policymakers developmental aspirations and economic policies. Therefore countries should set up Financial Inclusion Research Fund as part of their National Financial Inclusion Strategy to support continues research on financial inclusion issues for their jurisdiction.
4) Sub-Saharan African Countries should commit a percentage (at least 1%) of their annual GDP as the budget for Innovative technology for the support of the digital economy stimulus for sectors like financial service and other industries to perform.
5) Efforts should be made at country and regional levels to make the use of financial services delivered electronically cheaper – best practice is Wechat and AliPay payment solutions in China. Wechat specifically has no cost build up for use of its platform for payment of goods and services, therefore promoting the use of mobile phones and users can transfer cash and make purchases digitally for goods costing as low as half a dollar. It is practically possible to pay for an item bought at an amount which is less than a dollar with no additional fee except the cost of item only. These are some of the readily felt benefits of Innovation Technology within the banking space.
6) African government set up support investment funds and partner firms which can design innovative technologies in the area.

The Fair Consumer Reporting in Bankruptcy Act of 2015

Did you know that banks and other creditors may continue to list a debt on your credit report even after that debt has been paid? When your credit report reflects a debt that hasn’t been paid, your credit rating can drop drastically. In some cases, that poor credit rating can even mean that you will have to pay extra interest in some cases or that you may not be able to obtain credit at all from other lenders.

A new bill proposed by Senator Sherrod Brown called the ‘Fair Consumer Reporting in Bankruptcy Act of 2015′ would prevent banks and creditors from listing a debt on a consumer’s credit report once that debt has been wiped clean with a bankruptcy discharge.

Bill Details

The new bill (if passed) would require creditors to contact the consumer reporting agency once a debt has been cleared. If that debt has been discharged in bankruptcy and is at zero, creditors would have to report the debt as such.

How big of an issue is this? Right now, it’s estimated that one in five consumers has an error on their individual credit report. Personally, we think this number is way too low and is actually upward of 50%. This means that there are major mistakes on many credit reports, and even if you think that your debt has been paid and wiped clean, it might not be.

Aside from the fact that you may have a hard time getting approved for a loan, neglecting to report a debt as “zero” may also mean that a consumer will be charged more interest on additional obligations because of their debt to income ratios. Sadly, many consumers do not bother to check their reports after paying off a debt. The new bill would protect consumers that have declared bankruptcy and, therefore, have a right to have that debt wiped from credit records.

In the Meantime

The bill mentioned above has not yet been approved, but there are some things that you can do to make sure any debts you have paid off are reflected on your credit report. First, always check your credit report to make sure that debts that have been paid are accurately reflected on that report.

If you see any discrepancies on your credit report, it is incumbent on you to dispute the debt. Second, keep on top of your credit report by checking it once per year. You never know if the information that is reported is accurate, and it will only benefit you to keep on top of it.