Migrants Money for Financial Inclusion?

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1 Migrants Money for Financial Inclusion? Transnational Governance Initiatives in the US Mexican Context Doctoral Thesis Department of Political and Social Sciences Freie Universität Berlin Inaugural Dissertation zur Erlangung des akademischen Grades Doktor der Philosophie (Dr. Phil.) am Fachbereich für Politik und Sozialwissenschaften der Freien Universität Berlin Ursula Stiegler Berlin, 2013

2 First Supervisor/Erstgutachter: Prof. Dr. Günther Maihold Second Supervisor/Zweitgutachterin: Prof. Dr. Marianne Braig Date of Viva Defense/Datum der Disputation:

3 Abstract The study analyzes three state and non state initiatives channeling migrants remittances through networks of microfinance institutions in the transnational US Mexican context, hosting the largest remittance corridor worldwide. The Mexican main actors of the initiatives a state development bank, a large financial cooperative and a NGO with a special focus on rural finance to different degrees declare a contribution to the financial inclusion of the remittance receivers and the improvement of their socioeconomic situation as (one of) their aim(s). Parting from the observation that state and non state actors are involved with similar initiatives in the same governance area, the study firstly asks to what extent the initiatives potential contribution to financial inclusion via remittances differs. Secondly, it reconstructs the varying logics guiding the three state and non state actors and their remittance initiatives. Finally, it addresses the implications of the actors logics for their interplay in the Mexican microfinance sector. The study takes a governance perspective due to the variety of involved actors and interactions and follows an inductive approach with qualitative case studies. Empirically it is based mainly on interviews with experts and stakeholders. The analysis shows that the remittanceinitiatives potential contribution to financial inclusion varies considerably, with different strengths and weaknesses in each case and partial complementarities. It argues that the analyzed welfare oriented governance initiatives represent relevant alternative models complementing other commercial remittance payment networks in Mexico, although their market participation remains limited up to now. The study moreover concludes that the initiatives hitherto limited potential contribution to financial inclusion is partly due to their main actors logics, comprising financial and power political rationales next to the developmental goals. These lead to a range of conflicts between the state and non state actors and limit the potential benefit from complementarities. Addressing the implications of state and non state actors parallel involvement in the Mexican microfinance sector and remittance market, the study contributes to three hitherto separate research fields and relevant development discussions: Migration and development, microfinance and financial inclusion, as well as the changing role of governance actors vis á vis new transnational challenges in the context of globalization.

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5 Preface and Acknowledgements The main actors in the background of this study albeit they are not the main analyzed actors are Mexican migrants who leave their communities of origin and move north to the United States, where they stay weeks, months, years, or even their remaining lifetime, in order to work and send money back home to support their families in Mexico. The study is about governance initiatives that aim at fostering the financial inclusion of these remittance receivers, in order to improve their socio economic situation. It is also about the role(s) and logics of the state and non state actors initiating these initiatives as well as their interplay in the Mexican microfinance sector but more on all that later. This study is the result of my own movements between and in a variety of spaces. I started the PhD project in the context of a project on Remittances and Financial Development in the Special Research Center (SFB 700) on Governance in Areas of Limited Statehood at the Freie Universität Berlin, supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). This inspired not only my interest in questions of microfinance and financial inclusion but also on the changing and the remaining role of the state in light of the increasing participation of non state actors in governanceprocesses in the context of globalization. I continued the PhD study in the DFG International Research Training Group Between Spaces. Movements, Actors and Representations of Globalisation ( Entre Espacios ) at the Institute of Latin American Studies (LAI), also at the Freie Universität Berlin. With its interdisciplinary approach and its focus on Mexico and transnational actors and processes, this group provided a fruitful context to carry on and finish the project. During the several years of work on the PhD study I often felt myself like a migrant between spaces: between Berlin, Mexico and the United States, between the different above mentioned research contexts, between the two main disciplines of my research project political sciences and economics (including the migration between the respective colloquia at the LAI) and last but not least between the different research strands that I linked in this study: migration and development, microfinance and financial inclusion, as well as governance and the changing role of the state in globalization. This work has been accomplished thanks to the help and support of many people. First of all, I express my sincere gratitude to my Doktorvater Professor Günther Maihold for his inspiring supervision of this PhD project, for his always critical and constructive comments, for all the time he always took when necessary to discuss my questions, for the positive atmosphere in his colloquia at the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP), as well as his patience during the process and the freedom I had to follow my own way. Likewise I want to deeply thank my Doktormutter Professor Marianne Braig, who accompanied my PhD research in an equally inspiring manner as co director. I am very grateful for her 1

6 interest in this research project, her unconventional ideas and pragmatic advice, the warm hearted and exceptional culinary invitations to her home and all her motivating words and support. I am also indebted to Professor Carlos Alba, my Mexican supervisor in the context of Entre Espacios, who not only cordially supported me during my last research trip to Mexico but also added insightful comments from his perspective from the other side. I also would like to thank Professor Barbara Fritz, the director of the above mentioned SFB project, who was a superb boss, provided the initial idea for this PhD study and gave me the valuable opportunity to present and discuss my research in her colloquium with the economists of the LAI. In the same way, my dearest thanks go to Christian Ambrosius, my great colleague in this project. This study profited considerably from the interesting discussions with him and his relaxed and supportive way of being. Moreover, this study benefited from highly appreciated comments by and conversations with my colleagues and dear friends Laura Aguirre, Emily Calaminus, Anja Feth, Michael Goebel, Marius Haberland, Clarissa Heisig, Tabea Huth, Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser, Markus Michael Müller, Johanna Possinger, Sybille Röhrkasten, and Claudia Zilla. This is also true for the (other) members of the SFB 700 and the Research Training Group Between Spaces as well as the colloquia in Political Sciences and Economics at the LAI and Professor Maihold s colloquium at the SWP. I would like to thank Lars Brozus and Gregor Walter Drop as well as Ingrid Simson and their teams for their support regarding administrative issues and the organization of the research trips. I thank Sarah Seidel for her constructive proofreading. I am indebted to the DFG for the funding, without which this project would not have been possible. I am deeply grateful for all the cordial support as well as the sharing of information and thoughts of my interview partners in Mexico and the United States. As it is difficult to list them all here, I would like to mention in particular Yolanda Luna from BANSEFI/La Red de la Gente, David Torres from Caja Popular Mexicana and José García from AMUCSS/Envíos Confianza, who kindly and inexhaustibly answered all my questions. Ursula Heimann, an international expert for microfinance and financial inclusion located in Mexico, Sofía Orozco from the Institute of Mexicans abroad and Juan Navarrete, one of the Mexican microfinance experts, deserve my warmest thanks and appreciation for sharing their insights, helping to establish contacts and for their cordial personal support. Without the careful reading, thought provoking comments, constructive ideas and positive spirit of my wonderful colleagues and friends Katja Kirchstein and Christiane Ströh de Martínez, this study would not be what it is. Thank you ever so much, dear Diss dream team, for the overall sharing of the study journey with all its ups and downs! 2

7 I would also like to thank all my other friends, who through their different ways of being there and sharing time and good energy provided me with the motivation to accomplish this mission. First of all, I want to deeply thank Isabelle Godbillon for our wonderful longlasting friendship. Moreover, I would like to express my warmest gratitude to Mara Dehmer, Dana de la Fontaine, Vanessa Farfán, Julia Heyl, Sebastian Jakob, Magdalena Kilwing, Saskia Miller, Helga Schneider, Katia Vargas, Selene Verdiguel, and Fabian Zuber, who stand here representatively for all these dear people. Special thanks go with the same spirit and gratefulness to Janice Alder and Mai Yakushiji as well as to Adèle Bouvattier and Alexander Lust, not only for their emotional support particularly during the last months of this venture but also: Thank you for the music! Last but not least I am overly grateful for all the love and manifold support of my family especially of my parents Edith and Siegfried Stiegler, my brother Hannes Stiegler and my grandmother Ruth Stiegler who, the other way round as usual, and always unconditionally, have supported their migrating family member. Along with all the Mexican migrants and their families, I dedicate this study to them. 3

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9 Table of Contents List of Tables... 8 List of Figures... 9 List of Abbreviations Introduction Research interest Relevant academic debates and the related empirical context Governance and the changing role of the state in globalization Migration, remittances and development Financial inclusion and microfinance Research on the link of remittances and microfinance and the selected cases Research design and methodology Qualitative and theory guided inductive approach Case selection and analysis Data collection and analysis Outline of the study Theoretical Frame: Concepts and Analytical Tools The interrelation of financial inclusion and remittances Conceptualizations of financial access and inclusion Links of remittances, financial inclusion and microfinance Governance of (micro )finance for financial inclusion Governance as general analytical perspective Changing views on the role of the state in financial sector governance Types of state and non state actors providing microfinance The challenge to balance social and commercial goals to foster financial inclusion Framework to examine the initiatives contribution to financial inclusion Framework to examine the logics and interactions of governance actors Actors logics as interplay of norms and interests Interactions, competencies and conflicts of governance actors The Empirical Context and the Analyzed Cases Mexico s financial system and remittance market The (traditional) banking sector The microfinance and popular finance sector The relevance of remittances in Mexico and the Mexican remittance market

10 3.2 Governance linking remittances and finance in the US Mexican context State and non state initiatives along the remittance transfer chain The selected microfinance initiatives mode of operation: a short introduction The selected actors and initiatives and their declared aims BANSEFI and La Red de la Gente Caja Popular Mexicana and its remittance service AMUCSS and Envíos Confianza Interim conclusions The Initiatives Potential Contribution to Financial Inclusion Supply side requirements to foster financial inclusion via remittances Network size and geographic coverage Remittance transfers Offer of other financial services Additional efforts regarding the demand side Information of the migrant families Tracking of client information Interim conclusions Logics and Interactions of the State and Non State Actors and their Initiatives The state development bank: Logics of BANSEFI and La Red de la Gente BANSEFI s mandates and political role BANSEFI s commercial approach Logics of La Red de la Gente The financial cooperative: Logics of Caja Popular Mexicana and its remittanceservice Caja Popular Mexicana s mission and related activities Caja Popular Mexicana s commercial approach and political involvement Logics of Caja Popular Mexicana s remittance service The NGO: Logics of AMUCSS and Envíos Confianza AMUCSS mission and related activities AMUCSS commercial approach and political involvement Logics of Envíos Confianza Competing roles and conflicts of the state and non state actors Provision of financial services: BANSEFI as competitor? BANSEFI as central bank of the sector: paternalism revisited? The sectors contested regulation: necessary reforms and political power plays Interim conclusions

11 6 Conclusions: About Complementarities and Conflicts The initiatives potential contribution to financial inclusion and related complementarities Logics of actors and their implications: arising governance conflicts Reflections on the governance perspective and suggestions for further research Bibliography Annex Annex 1: Questionnaires Annex 2: Summary in English Annex 3: Zusammenfassung auf Deutsch

12 List of Tables Table 1: Conceptualizing the potential contribution to financial inclusion Table 2: Analytical frame for initiatives potential contribution to financial inclusion Table 3: Analytical frame to reconstruct actors logics Table 4: Access to finance in selected countries (% of adult population, 2008) Table 5: Overview of institutions in the Mexican financial system (2011) Table 6: Types of institutions in the Mexican microfinance sector (2011) Table 7: The largest institutions in the Mexican microfinance sector (2011) Table 8: Overview of the three initiatives main actors Table 9: Size and coverage of the initiatives networks in Mexico (2011) Table 10: Branch coverage by federal state with high remittances per capita (2010/11) Table 11: MTO partnerships of the remittance initiatives (2011) Table 12: Remittance transfers from (Nr. of transactions, thousands) Table 13: Remittance transfers from (Mio. USD) Table 14: Transfers per branch (transactions on average per month) Table 15: Transfers per branch (amount in USD, average per year) Table 16: Participation in the Mexican remittance market (% of amounts) Table 17: Participation in the Mexican remittance market (% of transactions). 130 Table 18: Interest rates of financial institutions in the Mexican microfinance market

13 List of Figures Figure 1: Absolute remittance flows to Mexico (millions of USD) Figure 2: Remittances to federal Mexican states as shares of their GDP (%, 2010) Figure 3: Distribution of La Red de la Gente s branches Figure 4: Distribution of Caja Popular Mexicana s branches Figure 5: Branch of BANSEFI/La Red de la Gente in Etla, Oaxaca Figure 6: Branch of Caja Popular Mexicana in Oaxaca Figure 7: Microbanco of AMUCSS/Envíos Confianza in Miahuatlán, Oaxaca Figure 8: Branch of Banco Azteca in Miahuatlán, Oaxaca Figure 9: The cooperative s aspiration to balance social and commercial goals Figure 10: Organizations and (social) companies founded by AMUCSS

14 List of Abbreviations AFI AML/CFT AMUCSS ATM BANSEFI BTS CEMLA CFI CGAP CNBV CPM CONAIF CONCAMEX CONDUSEF DESA DGRV EC GDP GIZ IDB IFAD ILO IME IMF INEGI Alliance for Financial Inclusion Anti Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism Asociación Mexicana de Uniones de Crédito del Sector Social Automated Teller Machine Banco del Ahorro Nacional y Servicios Financieros Bancomer Transfer Services Centro de Estudios Monetarios Latinoamericanos Center for Financial Inclusion Consultative Group to Assist the Poor Comisión Nacional Bancaria y de Valores Caja Popular Mexicana Consejo Nacional de Inclusión Financiera Confederación de Cooperativas de Ahorro y Préstamo en México Comisión Nacional para la Protección y Defensa de los Usuarios de Servicios Financieros United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Deutscher Genossenschafts und Raiffeisenverband (German Cooperative and Raiffeisen Confederation) Envíos Confianza Gross Domestic Product Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (German Agency for International Cooperation) Inter American Development Bank International Fund for Agricultural Development International Labour Organization Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior International Monetary Fund Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía 10

15 IOM IPO LACP LRASCAP MFI MIF MIX MTO NGO ODA OECD PAHNAL PAN PGR PRI PROFECO RdG SACP SFB SHCP SBFIC Sofinco Sofipo Sofol Sofom UNCDF USD WOCCU International Organization of Migration Initial Public Offering Ley de Ahorro y Crédito Popular Ley para Regular las Actividades de las Sociedades Cooperativas de Ahorro y Préstamo Microfinance Institution Multilateral Investment Fund Microfinance Information Exchange Money Transfer Operator Non governmental Organization Official Development Aid Organisation for Economic Co operation and Development Patronato del Ahorro Nacional Partido Acción Nacional Procuraduría General de la República Partido Revolucionario Institucional Procuraduría Federal del Consumidor La Red de la Gente Sector de Ahorro y Crédito Popular Sonderforschungsbereich (Special Research Center) Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público Sparkassenstiftung für Internationale Kooperation (Savings Banks Foundation for International Cooperation) Sociedad Financiera Comunitaria Sociedad Financiera Popular Sociedad Financeria de Objeto Limitado Sociedad Financiera de Objeto Múltiple United Nations Capital Development Fund US Dollar World Council of Credit Unions 11

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17 1 Introduction Movements of people and money across national borders are among the most significant phenomena contributing to and shaping globalization. In the context of striking social and economic inequalities between regions and countries and better job and income opportunities abroad, many inhabitants from poorer countries move temporarily or permanently abroad in order to improve their lives and those of their families. The money that migrants send back home to support their families, so called remittances, have shown extraordinary growth rates in the last decades. Whereas officially recorded remittances to developing countries amounted to 30 billion USD in 1990 (de Haas 2005: 1276), in 2010 they reached 325 billion USD (The World Bank 2011: 19), increasing more than tenfold in two decades. 1 With that, they now more than double the total official development aid (ODA) to the developing world. 2 Remittances are a major source of income for many poor households and have become an important capital flow for many developing countries, representing considerable shares of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in some cases (The World Bank 2011: 14). Their sharp rise has attracted increasing interest from international development organizations, policymakers and academia alike, and caused an intense and controversial debate about their development potential. The World Bank launched a Global Working Group on Remittances, policy recommendations have been proclaimed up to the level of the G8, 3 and the potential of migrant transfers has been repeated like a new development mantra (Kapur 2004). Similar to remittances, microfinance and financial inclusion 4 have moved to the top of national and international development agendas and are being addressed by a growing academic community, especially due to the expectation that they can reduce poverty and inequalities (Kendall et al. 2010: 1). This is in part due to the observation that access to finance is highly unequal on a global level: Whereas in industrialized countries between ten and twenty percent of the population are estimated to be unbanked, in developing 1 It has to be noted, though, that this increase is also due to the shift from informal to formal transfer channels and the more exact documentation of remittances in official statistics. 2 The overall official development aid in 2010 reached almost 130 billion USD. See the information on the website of the Organisation for Economic Co operation and Development (OECD): dac/aidstatistics/developmentaidreachesanhistorichighin2010.htm, See L Aquila s G8 summit Declaration 2009 (http://www.g8italia2009.it/static/g8_allegato/g8_declaration _08_07_09_final%2c0.pdf) and the respective activities of the Global Remittances Working Group coordinated by the World Bank: fin.pdf, Microfinance refers to the whole range of financial services (including credit, savings, insurances, money transfers) targeting low income populations and small and medium enterprises, which often imply special techniques and forms of service delivery. These services can be provided by specialized microfinance institutions or other types of (non commercial and commercial) financial service providers like financial cooperatives or commercial banks. Financial inclusion, in short, refers to qualitative and permanent access to and usage of financial services (see for a more detailed conceptual discussion the theoretical framework in chapter two). 13

18 regions, according to recent studies, around 60 to 70 percent of the adults do not have access to (formal) financial services. The distribution within these groups varies moreover according to gender, social strata and regions (Chaia et al. 2009: 5; Demirgüç Kunt/Klapper 2012: 2; Kendall et al. 2010: 3). Against this background, the proclamation of the International Year of Microcredit in 2005, the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize 2006 to Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank ʺfor their efforts to create economic and social development from belowʺ, 5 and the release of the Principles on Innovative Financial Inclusion of a G20 expert group in 2010 (ATISG 2010) are some major indications of the impact ideas about microfinance and financial inclusion have made at the global level. Both development topics, remittances and financial inclusion, are embedded in the political context of globalization, characterized through the changing roles of the nation state as classical governing actor. States and national governments are increasingly contested in their scope of action by transnational economic, environmental and social phenomena difficult to tackle on a national level alone, precisely because of their global nature. The state s capacity to act is reduced or overcharged with the regulation of fields that are located partly beyond its (traditional) scope of action as is the case of migration and transnational financial flows, for instance (Mayntz 2008: 54; 2009a). The classical governing of a strong state has become more and more challenged by societies complex dynamics and the increasing interweaving of state and society. For states in developing regions these tendencies arguably represent an even greater challenge, as they are often characterized by a constrained capacity to set and implement collectively binding rules (Risse 2011: 3ff.) as well as the coexistence of different societal dynamics and logics of rule (Schlichte/Wilke 2000). In the context of the outlined tendencies, governing in most world regions increasingly includes both non state and international actors that co govern along with (national) state actors, or sometimes even take over governing tasks completely. The academic discussion surrounding these tendencies, framed and analyzed increasingly with the notion of governance, constitutes the study s main theoretical background. 1.1 Research interest The present study is located at the intersection of three broader research fields reflecting the above outlined developments: governance and the changing role of the state in globalization, migration and development, and microfinance and financial inclusion. It takes a governance perspective to analyze state and non state initiatives that link remittances and microfinance and hence have the potential to contribute to financial 5 See the official website of the Nobel Prize:

19 inclusion. Thereby, the study is particularly interested in the role of the state vis á vis nonstate actors operating in the same governance field as part of the broader discussion on the changing role of the state in globalization and especially in the financial sector. The empirical setting is the US Mexican context, hosting the world s largest remittancecorridor, with a main focus on Mexico, the remittance receiving destination. Mexico represents a particularly rich case to analyze these processes, as the remainder of this introduction will address in greater detail. The country is not only still in a process of transition from a rather authoritarian system to a more democratic rule, but it is also confronted with the increasing transnationalization of the society due to mass emigration and has undertaken a profound reform of the microfinance sector since the beginning of the new millennium. Mexico presents an overall context in which the state is having to redefine its role vis à vis non state actors that enter the political arena, and one in which its scope of action is increasingly conditioned through the presence of other actors demanding participation in the solution of social issues. The research questions of the present study are inspired by both an empirical observation and a theoretical critique. In light of increasing remittance inflows, and arguably related to the international promotion of the remittances and microfinance agenda (Young 2008), a range of initiatives have been undertaken by Mexican state and non state actors in order to capitalize on the potential of remittances for financial development in the last decade. Among these, three initiatives that link remittances with microfinance were selected for analysis in the present study (see the explanation of the selection criteria below). They were initiated on the one hand by a Mexican state actor (a governmental development bank) and, on the other hand, by two non state actors (a financial cooperative and a nongovernmental organization (NGO)). All actors channel remittances cooperating with money transfer operators (MTOs) and financial institutions in the United States and pay them out through networks of microfinance institutions in Mexico, where they offer the money transfers together with other microfinance services. Via that link, as mentioned above, all three initiatives could be expected to contribute to the financial inclusion of the remittance receivers. In fact, all articulate in more or less explicit terms to aspire to such a contribution. First, let us take a closer look at the three initiatives. The Mexican national development bank BANSEFI (Banco del Ahorro Nacional y Servicios Financieros) started a remittanceinitiative called La Red de la Gente ( The Network of the People ) in An explicit goal of the state supported network is to provide financial services to individuals without access to such services, particularly in areas not covered by commercial banks. Caja Popular Mexicana (CPM), the largest credit cooperative in Mexico and one of the largest in Latin America, also started paying remittances in The financial cooperative delivers the service with the aim of amplifying services to existing members and 15

20 attracting new members. The NGO AMUCSS (Asociación Mexicana de Uniones de Crédito del Sector Social) supports rural MFI and seeks to provide financial services in marginalized rural areas, with a special orientation towards indigenous communities and other groups that have been traditionally excluded from the financial system. It started to offer remittance services in a pilot project in 2001 and later joined La Red de la Gente, the government supported MFI network, before it founded its own remittance initiative called Envíos Confianza ( Trust Transfers ) in The Mexican state s implementation of an initiative linking remittances and microfinance is notable, because these migrant transfers, in contrast to other international financial flows, have been described as unique capital flow that tends to bypass the state (Spector/de Graauw 2006: 2), or as the World Bank has noted, for the most part, remittances avoid the government middleman (The World Bank 2006: 105). Likewise, scholars and policymakers over the last decades have tended to concede the state a more and more limited role in the area of financial sector development, a point that will be further elaborated in the theoretical part of this study. The observation that a state actor becomes involved in the same field alongside non state actors, a field that is no longer considered part of the state s genuine spheres of activity and not appropriate regarding its expected role(s), is thus one inspiration for the research questions of the present study. In the case of the Mexican remittance initiatives in the micro financial sector, the state is thus still active alongside non state actors, who claim the field as their sphere of competence. Consequently, the expectations of the latter towards the (appropriate) roles and degrees of participation of the state thereby differ from the state s own perception, and the probability of conflicts between state and non state actors rises. This leads to another source of inspiration for the study s research questions, which has to do with the at least slightly normative bias of the governance perspective: In light of the assumption that governance is (always) focused on the public interest, a fundamental critique brought forward against the governance approach attributes to it a problemsolving bias (Mayntz 2004: 74; 2006: 17) and a blindness for questions of political power (Offe 2008: 72). 6 Therefore, instead of simply assuming that the actors participate in the analyzed governance area (only) in order to solve a development problem or to foster the provision of a public good, the study takes into consideration that there might also exist other motives guiding the actors including the quest for political power and that this might moreover lead to considerable conflicts between the actors. A central aim is thus to figure out why the state and non state might get involved in the remittance microfinancelinkage beyond the aspiration to contribute to financial inclusion, and what the implications of the interplay of the state and non state actors involved in the same field 6 Governance is understood in this study as the entirety of modes of collective regulation of social matters with a focus on enhancing the common good. See in more detail sections and

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