Consumer Protection Research Initiative

Innovations for Poverty Action

Relevent Country: India

Type of work: Research and Survey

The Consumer Protection Research Fund is open to all academic researchers and accepts proposals for randomized evaluations of consumer protection in digital financial services in lower and lower-middle-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

IPA’s Consumer Protection Research Initiative is a four-year research initiative which partners with policymakers, financial institutions, and civil society to develop new consumer protection solutions in digital financial services.


The Initiative focuses on key consumer protection themes relevant to digital financial services.

  • Fraud in digital channels. Digital financial services have created new opportunities for fraudsters to take advantage of consumers such as phishing messages and call center impersonation. Lost money from fraud can erode consumer trust and cause consumers harm. IPA seeks to identify and measure emerging fraud risks, then test solutions to help consumers and providers reduce the likelihood of fraud in digital financial services.
  • Consumer redress and complaints handling. In emerging markets, many lower-income consumers struggle to obtain effective resolution of problems. To improve the complaints and redress experience for low-income consumers, they will develop and test solutions (i) to increase use of complaints channels and (ii) to improve effectiveness of redress for consumers suffering harm or abuse.
  • Product information and consumer choice. Well-timed, relevant, and clear product information can help consumers to be better informed and make more suitable and cost-effective choices with their financial services. Digital channels create new opportunities to provide timely product information and advice to consumers. They will develop and test new methods for providing consumers with information on products available in the marketplace, and to facilitate easier comparison shopping and improved consumer outcomes.
  • Overindebtedness. Credit can be a boon if utilized for productive uses or responsible consumption smoothing. However, credit can also lead to negative outcomes for borrowers if not managed appropriately. There is a lack of robust evidence on how the risks of overindebtedness can be identified and minimized. This initiative will leverage data analysis and experimental interventions to test new solutions to reduce the risks of overindebtedness.

Funding Information

  • Maximum award amount per project: $300,000
  • Anticipated number of awards made: 2-3, pending funding levels requested


  • Proposals should be for research in countries in the regions referenced above. For projects being implemented through an institution that is not an IPA country office, at least one Primary Researcher should be from an institution that is able and willing to accept the administration of this award.
  • Each application must be presented by a team consisting of one or more researchers involved in the design of the intervention and responsible for carrying out a rigorous evaluation of the program. At least one member of the research team must be affiliated with a research institution or a university and either hold a PhD or be a current PhD candidate in a relevant social science or engineering discipline, such as economics, statistics, sociology, anthropology, psychology, public health, education, or computer science. They must demonstrate experience in field research and randomized trials. Special consideration will be given to research teams with researchers from low- and middle-income countries.