Financial Inclusion in Action

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Agent Networks In India – How Mandates Have Influenced the Landscape

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There is a key difference in how the Digital Financial Services (DFS) market in India has evolved when compared to other countries. While in most countries the expansion of DFS along with agent networks has been driven by profit, the growth of DFS in India has essentially been the result of government mandates. The mandates… Continue reading

Thoughts on DFS in “Europe Minus Infrastructure” – DRC!

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“Europe minus infrastructure”? This was the term that James Mwangi, CEO of Equity Group, used in an Equity Group briefing when describing and explaining Equity Banks’ move into DRC by purchasing ProCredit Bank Congo.  I have been thinking about which country might be the following some of the leading digital financial services (DFS) countries like… Continue reading

Keeping the Channel Happy for Quick Scale-up: A Case from the Mumbai Remittance Market

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Remittances have emerged as the most common anchor product offered by alternate banking channels, (banking channels used by the unbanked such as money transfer agents), particularly in large Indian cities like Delhi and Mumbai. Huge unmet demand for sending money home efficiently and quickly, combined with willingness to pay for the service, has made over… Continue reading

How Many Accounts Does A Man Have To Open To Be Financially Included?

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It was a hot afternoon during one of our recent agent network assessment studies, when I got the opportunity to meet Raju. He seemed no different from the typical participants in our focus group discussions in Bihar. A farmer somewhere in his middle 30s, thin and frail, wearing a half-sleeved ‘baniyan’ (vest) and pants with… Continue reading

Market Readiness for Mobile Money Interoperability

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Interoperability of mobile financial services potentially offers great benefits for the wider ecosystem. The value to consumers is obvious. This, in turn, leads to wider adoption; higher transaction volumes; greater velocity of money in the ecosystem; all of which are advantageous to service providers. It is now well established from both MicroSave’s Helix Institute of Digital Finance and CGAP studies that… Continue reading

Draft Branchless Banking Regulations in Indonesia – A Review

The Government of Indonesia has been proactive in its efforts to extend formal financial access to the unbanked and under-banked sections of the society. The release of draft regulations on branchless financial services for financial inclusion by Otoritas Jasa Keuangan (OJK – the financial services authority that regulates and supervises financial services activities in banking,… Continue reading

Does the New Inclusion Scheme Risk Adding a Rs. 1,000 Billion Subsidy Burden?

The Prime Minister is all set to announce a mega new programme on financial inclusion on India’s Independence Day. The Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance, is busy shaping the ‘Sampoorn Vittiyea Samaveshan (SVS)’ (Comprehensive Financial Inclusion) scheme in consultation with bankers. Anyone closely associated with the financial inclusion space will worry that without very… Continue reading

Several Times Bitten: Still Not Shy?

The intention to provide at least two accounts to each household in the next one year is welcome. But the question in everybody’s mind is: how will the target be achieved, and what will be the status of these accounts at the end of this exercise? The target itself is ambitious: we want to open… Continue reading

Building and Sustaining Agent Networks – Evidence from Indonesia

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Indonesia is the world's fourth most populous democracy with a population of 238 million people. An archipelago with more than 17,500 islands, the country is rich in cultural, ethnic, religious and linguistic diversity. However, access to formal financial products/services still remains elusive for most people. According to World Bank estimates only 20% of Indonesians (above 15 years)… Continue reading

The Mor Committee Report – Will Payment Banks Be Revolutionary or Evolutionary?

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One of the more debated aspects of the Mor Committee’s report on “Comprehensive Financial Services for Small Businesses and Low Income Households” is the proposal for the new class of banks, in particular the “Payments Banks”. While it is probably a stretch to assert that this is an “incremental step” from the existing (Pre-Paid Instrument… Continue reading