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Together, the mobile industry and the financial services community have the power, and the opportunity, to put billions of people on the path to financial inclusion. Steve Polsky of Juvo talks here about getting the the how, the why and the when in place.


Posted by Steve Polsky, Founder and CEO, Juvo

Juvo Be Bold for Change Report Cover

During the Mobile World Congress Americas in September 2017, Juvo held its inaugural Be Bold for a Change event with mobile and fintech leaders in San Francisco. Photo credit: Juvo

Thanks to World Bank, we all know the numbers: two billion unbanked people around the world, excluded from formal financial services. Thanks to the United Nations, we have a global rallying cry with the Sustainable Development Goal and that financial inclusion is the enabler for seven of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. And thanks to the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion’s initiative Financial Inclusion Week, we also know that dozens of companies are committed to improving the lives of billions of people around the world.

But in the same way that no man (or company) is an island, no single industry can financially include billions of people. Financial institutions have the technology and services to change the way people borrow, save, insure, send and lend money in emerging markets; however, even an industry of the scale of the financial system doesn’t have the reach to change the world as quickly as the UN Sustainable Development Goals demand.

The only industry with that reach is the mobile industry. And as mobile operators around the world begin to embrace the maxim “doing good is good for business,” likewise they’re becoming cognizant that while they may have the reach, they may not have the technology and services to drive sustainable financial inclusion.

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> Posted by Jeffrey Riecke, Communications Specialist, CFI

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If you had to embark on a journey similar to that of the 65 million people who are currently forcibly displaced, what would you bring? Most likely among your provisions would be a smartphone. Phones are the contemporary map and compass, a gateway to critical information, a means for keeping in touch with loved ones, and a financial toolkit. More and more, aid workers are witnessing refugees arriving at camps with smartphones. For both the refugee journey and the post-journey settlement process, a phone can be vital. With this in mind, you might not be surprised to learn that mobile money usage among refugees, including for cash transfers from governments and NGOs, is on the rise.

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> Posted by Jeffrey Riecke, Senior Communications Associate, CFI

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The Helix Institute of Digital Finance recently launched the Kenya Country Report 2014 as part of their Agent Network Accelerator (ANA) project. The ANA project is aimed at increasing global understanding of how to build and manage sustainable digital financial services (DFS) networks by conducting large-scale research among DFS agents and issuing training to providers and other stakeholders. In this two-part interview, Dorieke Kuijpers, Research Project Manager at the Helix Institute and co-author of the report, provides insight into the ANA project and the Kenya Country Report. The following is part two. Part one can be found here.

One of the big findings of the survey is that banks’ agents now account for 15 percent of the agent banking market in Kenya – a threefold increase over last year. What are some of the other key developments in the market?

We have identified a number of market developments by comparing the Kenya 2014 survey findings with those of the Kenya 2013 survey. Mobile network operators (MNOs) have led the success in the digital financial services industry in Kenya and historically have been considered better in marketing and distribution than banks, which is not surprising given that many MNOs in East Africa have more clients than banks do. Nearly a decade of development later, we see this changing: banks are now making large investments in the DFS business and they are approaching it in a very different way.

An interesting finding is that although we observe a significant increase in the market presence of bank agents, the products and services they offer are in many ways additive as opposed to competing with those of MNO agents. While MNO agents are still conducting a higher number of transactions (almost twice as many as bank agents), bank agents are offering a greater and more sophisticated array of services, including bill payments, savings, and credits. Also, the median amount transacted among bank agents is roughly 50 percent higher, which means their revenue is now similar to that of MNO agents. This is reflected in the fact that out of the 32 percent of agents that report wanting to open a new till for another provider, the overwhelming majority of agents would like to join a bank’s network, with Equity Bank being the most popular option.

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> Posted by Andrew Fixler, Freelance Journalist

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Indian financial inclusion advocates enjoyed a brief victory lap and an international spotlight in January, and they are poised to move into 2015 with a renewed push. On January 20, Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was presented with a Guinness World Record for the fastest financial inclusion roll-out in history, the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY). In one week, between 23 and 29 August 2014, 18,096,130 bank accounts were opened through this national inclusion strategy. Since that date the number has grown to over 123 million across the country. During his January 25 joint address with Prime Minister Modi, President Obama commended Indian leadership’s commitment to prioritize financial inclusion for all Indian citizens, and pledged American support.

In a January 27 press release, USAID affirmed Obama’s pledge, and announced its intention to partner with over 20 Indian, U.S., and international organizations with the support of the World Economic Forum (WEF) to work alongside the Indian government “to expand the ability of Indian consumers and businesses to participate in the formal economy.”

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The views and opinions expressed on this blog, except where otherwise noted, are those of the authors and guest bloggers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Financial Inclusion or its affiliates.