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March 15, 2017 in Branchless Banking, Client Focus, Client Protection, Financial Inclusion, Policy, Social Performance, Technology | Tags: Digital Finance, Fintech, Ponzi Schemes, Pyramid Schemes, The Smart Campaign, World Consumer Rights Day | by Center for Financial Inclusion | Leave a comment
> Posted by Jami Solli, Independent Consultant and Founder of the Global Alliance for Legal Aid
Happy World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD)! Every year on March 15 WCRD serves as an opportunity to promote the basic rights of all consumers and as a chance to protest against the market abuses and social injustices which undermine those rights. The theme for this year is ‘Building a Digital World Consumers Can Trust’. The following post spotlights the increasing need for regulatory attention on online financial frauds.
No country in the world is free of financial fraud. And, every nation seems to have its own Bernie Madoff. Yet, Madoff’s $50 billion did not do systemic damage to the U.S. financial system, nor did it harm financial inclusion efforts in America. Unfortunately, when ponzis occur in developing countries, they do cause systemic risk and untold damage to financial inclusion efforts.
March 8, 2017 in Center for Financial Inclusion, Client Focus, Financial Inclusion, Global Findex, Policy, Savings, Social Performance, Technology, Women and Financial Inclusion | Tags: Gender, Gender Equity, Global Findex, Iceland, India, International Women's Day, International Women's Strike, Samsung, South Korea, Women, World Economic Forum | by Center for Financial Inclusion | Leave a comment
> Posted by Robin Brazier, Communications and Operations Associate, the Smart Campaign
Every year on March 8th we honor women around the world by celebrating International Women’s Day. This international holiday not only recognizes women’s valuable achievements and contributions to society, it recognizes the work that still needs to be done to create a more inclusive, gender equal world.
This day resonates especially strongly this year, with the International Women’s Strike also taking place today. For the worldwide strike, women are encouraged to not participate in paid or unpaid work and to avoid spending money – with the aim of demonstrating women’s integral professional and economic role in society. Over 50 countries around the world are participating in the strike, from Canada to Cambodia.
March 2, 2017 in Branchless Banking, Center for Financial Inclusion, Client Focus, Events, Financial Inclusion, Mapping the Invisible Market, Social Performance, Technology | Tags: 5G, CFI Research Fellows Program, CGAP, Fintech, LendIt, Leon Perlman, Mobile Money, Mobile World Congress, Tanzania, The Brookings Institution, Verizon | by Center for Financial Inclusion | Leave a comment
> Posted by Sonja Kelly, Director of Research, CFI
This week at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Verizon announced that it’s unveiling new 5G wireless connectivity for its mobile customers. More “G”s are not a surprising announcement, as mobile networks strut their speed at this annual event like body builders at a weightlifting competition. For those unfamiliar with what exactly 5G means, the network will provide speeds of a gigabit per second and faster, but only in a select group of cities in high income economies.
As we celebrate global innovation, we can also take a moment to highlight those who continue to have limited to no connectivity—with implications for global development. While 5G revs up, an astounding number of people are left out of mobile connectivity and therefore mobile money—even in countries known for their digital financial services uptake.
Our CFI Fellow Leon Perlman examines this phenomenon in his upcoming report. As a sneak preview, in his report Leon shows connectivity maps in a select group of emerging markets, such as the one above. Take this example of Tanzania, a market with growing mobile money usage. In this market, mobile network coverage misses large swaths of rural areas toward the center of the country. Certainly, those areas have lower population densities than other areas, but they are home to many people. The mobile financial services ecosystem depends on connectivity infrastructure that provides reliable and sufficiently high-speed data transmission. Lacking that, people in rural areas are left out in large numbers. In the map above, the blue splotches indicate mobile network coverage, and the dots are where mobile money agents are located.
January 25, 2017 in Branchless Banking, Center for Financial Inclusion, Client Focus, Client Protection, Events, Financial Inclusion, Governance, Microfinance, Policy, Savings, Social Performance, Technology | Tags: Africa Board Fellowship, Calmeadow, Governance, Jordan, Microfinance, Middle East and North Africa, SANABEL, South Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa | by Center for Financial Inclusion | Leave a comment
> Posted by Center Staff
Time flies. It’s hard to believe that the Africa Board Fellowship (ABF) program will soon begin its fifth cohort of fellows. Over the past few years and four cohorts, the ABF program has included more than 125 CEOs and board members from over 40 financial inclusion institutions across 35 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. If you’re an inclusive finance leader in sub-Saharan Africa, now’s your chance to join the governance and strategic leadership program. Applications are now open for the fifth cohort.
ABF recently held two seminars in Cape Town, welcoming the fourth cohort of fellows and graduating the third cohort. With new case studies on disruptive technologies, and an emphasis on interactive role plays and simulations, the seminars proved once again that peer-to-peer exchanges are an effective way to examine best and worst governance practices. To hear the fellows’ takeaways from the two seminars, watch our new video above.
January 17, 2017 in Center for Financial Inclusion, Financial Inclusion, Microfinance, Policy, Resources, Smart Campaign, Social Performance, Technology | Tags: Client Protection, Consumer Protection, Digital Finance, Fintech, McKinsey Global Institute, Mobile Money, Responsible Digital Finance | by Center for Financial Inclusion | Leave a comment
> Posted by Ros Grady
The following post was originally published on Ros’ website.
2016 has seen a sharp-eyed global focus on clarifying what responsible digital financial inclusion means in practice. This is connected to the increasing recognition that digital financial inclusion brings new and significant risks for consumers, as well as considerable benefits.
The September 2016 McKinsey Global Institute Report – How Digital Finance Could Boost Growth in Emerging Economies – suggests that widespread use of digital finance (payments and digital services delivered via mobile phones and the Internet) could add $3.7 trillion to the GDP of emerging economies – or six percent – by 2025. Which in turn could create around 95 million jobs.
So responsible digital financial inclusion is important.
But what was new in 2016? Consider these important developments:
Calling All Financial Inclusion Leaders in MENA! Registration Is Open for the MENA Governance and Strategic Leadership Seminar
January 10, 2017 in Center for Financial Inclusion, Events, Financial Inclusion, Governance, Investing in Inclusive Finance, Microfinance, Social Performance, Technology | Tags: Africa Board Fellowship, Calmeadow, Corporate Governance, Governance, Jordan, MENA, Middle East and North Africa, SANABEL | by Center for Financial Inclusion | Leave a comment
> Posted by Center Staff
You’d be hard-pressed to list all the ways corporate governance can make (or break!) an organization. In the financial inclusion sector, strong boards ensure effective strategic planning, manage sustainable growth, bolster attractiveness to investors, balance risks, develop client centric products and delivery channels, and, increasingly, act as “strong digital sparring partners for management.” Yet, a recent study sponsored by the Sanabel Network and the IFC that inspected risks confronting the microfinance sector in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) found that half of their interviewees perceived corporate governance risk as “high” or “very high.”
Being a board member or CEO of a financial inclusion institution is a great responsibility, and can also be a complex task. All boards have different dynamics and governance best practices can sometimes be nebulous. To address these challenges, Calmeadow, FMO, Sanabel and the CFI are hosting a “Governance and Strategic Leadership Seminar” this March in Amman. This seminar brings together CEOs and board members of leading financial institutions serving the financially excluded in the MENA region to strengthen board capacity through peer learning and exchange. If you’re a leader in MENA’s inclusive finance sector, please consider attending this seminar to contribute your unique experiences and perspectives, and also to learn from the experiences of your peers.
December 20, 2016 in Branchless Banking, Center for Financial Inclusion, Client Focus, Client Protection, Financial Inclusion, Microfinance, Smart Campaign, Social Performance, Technology | Tags: Client Protection, Digital Credit, Digital Financial Services, The Smart Campaign | by Center for Financial Inclusion | Leave a comment
> Posted by Nadia van de Walle, Lead, Africa Partnerships and Programs, the Smart Campaign
A keynote speaker at a recent conference I attended described consumer protection as “incredibly important,” before adding that it was also “boring.” Palpable excitement buzzes around new products or technologies, but consumer protection can be a real buzzkill. After all, it is often viewed as a dry, bureaucratic subject, costly for providers, and entailing barriers to pace of change and convenience.
As the Smart Campaign’s Africa team lead, I’m excited about client protection! And that’s not because it’s my purview. First, I think that client protection should not be seen as pumping the breaks on financial inclusion’s momentum. Rather, it guarantees a longer, more enjoyable ride. Secondly, client protection need not be a dull compliance exercise. It too can crowdsource, beta-test, gamify, and so forth to hack innovative, agile, disruptive approaches. But seriously, as an industry we can consider and engage in client protection practices that are data-driven, and that use behavioral economics, human-centered design, fintech, and other disciplines to not only ensure fair consumer treatment but strengthen financial bottom lines.
July 15, 2016 in Client Focus, Social Performance | Tags: Burkina Faso, Domestic Abuse, Freedom From Hunger, India, Philippines, Social Performance Task Force, The Microcredit Summit Campaign | by Center for Financial Inclusion | 1 comment
> Posted by Bobbi Gray, Research Director, Freedom from Hunger
If someone asked you, “In the past 12 months, have you ever been afraid of your spouse?” how do you think you’d respond? I would personally hope you’d be able to say “never”. I wouldn’t want to hear you say, “often” or even “sometimes”.
A few years back, I wrote a blog post about domestic violence and microfinance. This topic came out of the 2014 Microcredit Summit in Mexico where we were talking about health indicators. Carmen Velasco suggested we’d forgotten to add an indicator related to domestic violence to the list, since conceptually it feels that if we don’t include domestic violence under the theme of health, it might continue to not get covered anywhere.
Since the Summit, Freedom from Hunger has had a chance to ask the question I asked you above in three countries. While most demographic and health surveys and other standardized surveys on domestic violence may go through a series of questions about whether a person has experienced physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, or other types of abuse, we were looking for something less invasive, if that’s possible. When I found the above question in an Indian survey, it felt right. I actually had a personal reaction to it. At one point in my life, if someone had asked me this question, I might have said “sometimes” or even “often.”
July 13, 2016 in Center for Financial Inclusion, Financial Education, Financial Inclusion, Microfinance, Savings, Social Performance, Technology | Tags: Corporate Social Responsibility, Data, Dr. William Derban, Fidelity Bank Ghana, Financial Capability, Fintech, Ghana, The Business of Financial Inclusion: Insights from Banks in Emerging Markets | by Center for Financial Inclusion | 1 comment
> Posted by Hannah Sherman, Project Associate, CFI
Last Thursday the Institute of International Finance (IIF) and the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion (CFI) launched The Business of Financial Inclusion: Insights from Banks in Emerging Markets. Based on in-depth interviews with 24 banks in emerging markets, the report explores the challenges and opportunities banks face in reaching unbanked and underbanked customers. It shines a spotlight on banks as leaders in advancing financial inclusion and discusses specific strategies related to technology, data, partnerships, financial capability, and other key issues, and concludes with recommendations for action.
In the following video, the report’s primary author Susy Cheston interviews Dr. William Derban, Director of Inclusive Banking & Corporate Social Responsibility at Fidelity Bank Ghana and one of the 24 bankers interviewed for the report. In their informal and in-depth conversation, Ms. Cheston and Dr. Derban discuss, among other topics, why Fidelity Bank Ghana has decided to engage in financial inclusion (hint: it’s not just about CSR), their commitment to always putting the customer first, their plan to reach viability, and the benefits they have gained through technology and partnerships.
January 26, 2016 in Center for Financial Inclusion, Microfinance, Resources, Social Performance | Tags: Microfinance, Pakistan, Pakistan Microfinance Network, Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund, State Bank of Pakistan | by Center for Financial Inclusion | Leave a comment
> Posted by Saquiba Aziz, Social Responsibility Associate, Pakistan Microfinance Network
Loan officers, who form the base of organizational hierarchy of a typical microfinance organization, are instrumental in expanding the outreach of microfinance and building goodwill with microfinance clients. Hence it is extremely important that the right kind of social and financial message is conveyed through them. However, despite the critical role that loan officers play in an organization, their voices and their challenges in the field are largely ignored when it comes to literature on microfinance.
Realizing the need to study and document the ground realities and perspectives of this fundamental human capital of microfinance providers, the Pakistan Microfinance Network (PMN), with financial support from the State Bank of Pakistan and the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund, recently undertook a qualitative study on loan officers, titled, “Loan Officers’ Voices: Perspectives and Lessons from the Foot Soldiers“. For the research, PMN conducted focus group discussions and in depth interviews with loan officers from 10 institutions that volunteered to participate.
Some very interesting findings emerged from the study. Most of the loan officers were found to be aware of the vital role that they were entrusted with, i.e. the growth and risk management of their institutions. Their work, primarily based in the field, is premised upon assumptions of self-surveillance, monitoring, and discipline to achieve the targets set for them. Loan officers shared diverse visions about the job at hand: responses differed from helping the underprivileged to seeking experience in client handling. Another group viewed their jobs in terms of the authority and social power it brings to them as they monitor clients’ usage of loans. This improves their self-esteem as they feel good about the fact that they are in a position to oversee and help people.