Financial Inclusion in Action

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The Better Service Agents Provide, The More Business They Do

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One of the major objectives of the Agent Network Accelerator (ANA) project is to determine which aspects of strategic operations really build the business case in the agency business. The Helix Institute has partnered with the Harvard Business School to dig deep into the data that is being collected and some of the initial findings are quite interesting. Specifically, agents… Continue reading

Indonesia: The Quiet before the Storm

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Last year, The Helix Institute discussed the importance of focusing on the “Launchpad Stage” before rolling out a DFS deployment. The Launchpad Stage is the developmental phase which concentrates on identifying a value proposition in the market, defining an anchor product, designing processes, structuring management, streamlining protocols and crafting a marketing and communications strategy. In Nigeria, providers… Continue reading

The “I Don’t Have Enough Float” Quandary!

Ugali is cornmeal porridge and a staple of the Kenyan diet; it is as Kenyan as M-PESA.  Last time my mother was making it, she ran out of cooking gas and texted me frantically to send her money so she could buy gas and finish cooking dinner before it got soggy.  I ran to the… Continue reading

Over The Counter Transactions – Liberation Or A Trap? Part III

The first blog in this series Over The Counter Transactions – Liberation Or A Trap? (Part I) highlighted that over the counter (OTC) transactions alone cannot deliver the digitally enabled financial inclusion many of us are working towards. The second Over The Counter Transactions – Liberation Or A Trap? (Part II)  noted that despite this OTC transactions… Continue reading

Over The Counter Transactions – Liberation Or A Trap? Part II

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In the previous blog Over The Counter Transactions – Liberation Or A Trap? (Part I) I looked at why over the counter (OTC) transactions alone cannot deliver the digitally enabled financial inclusion many of us are working towards.  A later blog in the series will examine the implications of OTC for providers and customers – many… Continue reading

Over The Counter Transactions – Liberation Or A Trap? – Part I

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The Cause For Concern I am back obsessing about over the counter (OTC) transactions again. Before we dive in let’s quickly define OTC transactions as they come in many forms in different markets – from the direct deposit by the agent into the end-user’s wallet in Kenya to the transfer of money from one agent… Continue reading

The Ebbs & Flows of Liquidity Management

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Advanced Liquidity Management: While liquidity management is consistently cited as one of the most challenging elements of managing an agent network, there are times when it is more difficult than others.  People’s need to deposit, withdraw and send value fluctuates quite considerably, and so while an agent might understand how much e-float and cash to… 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

The Human Touch Required to Evolve Digital Finance

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Service Offerings at Agents are Static & Rudimentary Across East Africa The Helix Institute’s research (2013) is showing that even after seven years of market development in Kenya, six years in Tanzania and five in Uganda, agents are still providing the same very rudimentary services that they did from the beginning.  The graph below shows that just about all… Continue reading