Financial Inclusion in Action

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Designing User-Friendly USSD Interface for Digital Financial Services

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According to Finscope 2014, it is estimated that 33% of Malawians have access to formal financial services. For any non-urban individual in Malawi, travelling to the nearest bank takes an average of more than an hour and a quarter. By contrast, 50% of adult Malawians have access to a mobile phone, 20% are aware about mobile… Continue reading

Working Together to Fight DFS Fraud

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Fraud is one of the major threats to the emergence and sustainability of the DFS ecosystem. Uganda’s DFS market has long been plagued by fraud. The Helix 2015 ANA Uganda Report revealed that 53% of Uganda’s mobile money agents have experienced fraud within the last year – either personally or through one of their employees. At the recent launch of… Continue reading

Building a Business Case for Women Agents

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Women agents provide great customer service. They are more attentive, helpful, diligent, and effective at building trust. They are also better at on-boarding women and other underserved populations than their male counterparts. These are often cited conclusions from a series of qualitative studies in India, Zambia, and other markets across Asia and Africa. At the same time, we still… Continue reading

Demystifying the Role of Master Agents

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Agents are deemed the lynchpin of any successful digital finance (mobile money or agent banking) roll-out. A plethora of literature has been written about the role they play in building successful and sustainable digital finance businesses.  Less attention has been paid to the critical work of Master Agents who constitute an important, if not crucial, element in the agent-based… Continue reading

Open Application Programming Interfaces (API): Purpose and Possibilities

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Application Programming Interface or API, a software programme, acts as a bridge between disparate applications. It performs the intended function when a set of instructions are provided through a user interface (UI). The front-end of UI is usually a website or mobile application. The following diagram illustrates the basic architecture of any API-based business model:… Continue reading

Burgeoning ‘Typhoons’ in Digital Financial Services

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Typhoons are great engines of destruction. When a typhoon makes landfall it often produces a devastating storm surge that destroys everything in its path without mercy. The best defence against a typhoon is an accurate forecast that gives people time and means to get out of its way. It is therefore prudent to watch, watch… Continue reading

Customer Vulnerability, Trust and Risk in Indian Digital Financial Services

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Qualitative research done as a part of MicroSave’s study for the Omidyar Network on customer production, risk and financial capability in India shows that customers’ perceptions of banking or financial transactions are still focused on brick and mortar based services. DFS providers have not done enough to change the customer’s perception and gain trust. The… Continue reading

Democratising Financial Services

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Sheetal, a 41 year-old widow, is a vegetable hawker and lives by herself in Mumbai. She wanted to expand her business by adding more stock and buying a new wheel-cart. She has a bank account, opened under the Prime Minister’s Jan Dhan Yojana. She could not avail credit from her bank for lack of any… Continue reading

Customer Protection in Indian Digital Financial Services: Part 2: Transparency and Privacy

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MicroSave’s study for the Omidyar Network on customer protection, risk and financial capability in India sought to understand the extent to which customer protection practices were embedded into DFS offerings in India. The research examined the effectiveness of these customer protection practices and the ease with which customers and agents could access them. In the… Continue reading

Customer Protection in Indian Digital Financial Services: Part 1: Recourse

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There is growing concern about customer protection. This can be seen from initiatives such as Code of Conduct for mobile money players by GSMA, the update of the SMART Campaign’s client protection to create principles for DFS. These initiatives represent industry-wide commitments to build awareness, better practices, and standards that could contribute to strengthening customer… Continue reading