What do Tata’s Nano and Mobile Banking Share?

Mark Pickens over at the CGAP (the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor) blog raises the issue of how we evaluate less than best solutions in development.  I’m not quite sure where I stand.

They both re-engineer something used for decades in rich countries , rethinking every assumption to make it affordable for low-income clients. And both may be safer than the alternatives poor people are already using.

Tata announced the Nano last week as an ultra simple but stylish car costing US$2500, closer to affordable for Indian families than any other new car. To slash prices, Tata engineers questioned everything conventional wisdom said is a “must have”: why not one large windshield wiper instead of two? Why does the beam connecting the wheel to the axle need to be made of solid steel?