Financial Inclusion in Action

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The Digital Transformation: Four Opportunities and Three Threats for Traditional Financial Institutions


In 2010, Equity Bank called in MicroSave to help with their digital transformation. Today more than 97 percent of Equity Bank’s transactions in Kenya are conducted outside their branch network, and more than 70 percent are self-initiated by their clients on mobile phones. Can you imagine what that does to their cost structures? The International… Continue reading

WhatsApp with Agent Monitoring and Support?


We met Cyrus Kibuchi on a Monday morning at Kamangu, a town 40 km from Nairobi. Cyrus works as an agent in Kamangu, and days like this usually find him busy at work. He is an agent who serves seven digital financial services (DFS) providers. These providers comprise five banks and two mobile money operators… Continue reading

UNHCR Cash-Based Intervention in Meheba refugee settlement in Zambia: The Journey to Digitization


It was a hot and dusty day as our team drove into Meheba refugee settlement in the North-Western Province of Zambia. Our energy was high, though it was the adrenaline that kept us going after a couple days without sleep. We were going to see the initial results of a nine-month journey towards digitization of… Continue reading

Aadhaar verdict – SC strikes the right balance between delivery of benefits and privacy

The long debate on the constitutionality and purpose of Aadhaar may not end with the judgement of the Supreme Court but it will certainly become more specific and narrower. In a landmark judgment, the five-judge Supreme Court bench opined with a 4:1 majority that Aadhaar is legitimate and proportional. The judges observed that although Aadhaar… Continue reading

India’s enabling triangle for financial inclusion


In our earlier blogs, we expressed our concerns around the growth of the digital divide, as the focus for financial inclusion shifts to FinTech and superplatforms as “the definitive solutions”. While these solutions typically require smartphones, many of the poorer households in Asia and Africa simply do not have access to the devices. Neither do… Continue reading

Winter is coming: Key lessons on digital transformation for financial institutions


In the previous blog, we discussed the “why” – a business case for digital transformation. In this blog, we look at the “how” – the detailed steps for digital transformation. Digitise processes Digital processes are quicker, more efficient and cheaper than manual processes. A digital transformation of processes reduces the cost and friction points of… Continue reading

Blankets and wine for financial inclusion – Beyond digital access


Is registration for mobile accounts (wallets) really enough? What is an ideal measure of financial inclusion? The Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) defines a core set of indicators for measuring financial inclusion. The first dimension is access to the services and products that formal financial institutions offer. Yet to achieve meaningful access, we have to… Continue reading

Winter is coming: Digital disruption and its impact on the financial services industry


The financial services industry is changing rapidly. A convergence of technology with finance, which, in turn, resulted in the emergence of FinTechs, has been changing the very fundamental nature of the financial industry. Apart from technology, demographic and cultural shifts continue to alter the financial services value chains. Traditional financial institutions are losing their market… Continue reading

Why do so Few Fintechs Focus on the Mass Market?


Howls of disbelief and denial greeted the assertion in Can Fintech Really Deliver On Its Promise For Financial Inclusion? that “fintech is irrelevant for most villagers because providers have made little effort to tailor interfaces or use-cases for the low-income market.” At the time of writing, the vast majority of fintech providers across the globe… Continue reading

Consumer Protection in the Digital Age


Why does consumer protection matter? In November 2017, in Can Fintech Really Deliver On Its Promise For Financial Inclusion?, we noted, “It is quite clear that till date, the regulatory environment and consumer protection provisions remain too weak to secure the poor. Many have already lost money in basic money transfer transactions. Millions are negatively… Continue reading