Mar 2017

  • Manoj Sharma, Director, MicroSave Speaks at the Asia Pacific Financial Inclusion Summit 2017



    Hanoi, Vietnam:
    March 22, 2017, Manoj Sharma, Director MicroSave participated as a plenary speaker for a session titled ‘A New Age of Collaboration’ at the Asia Pacific Financial Inclusion Summit 2017. At the event, he was also interviewed by the International Finance Magazine for his views on the growing role of Digital Financial Services in accelerating Financial Inclusion. 
     
    The Asia-Pacific Financial Inclusion Summit is the region’s premier thought leadership event on financial inclusion. Hosted by the State Bank of Vietnam and organised by the Citi Foundation and the Foundation for Development Cooperation (FDC), in partnership with the Banking with the Poor Network (BWTP), the Economist Group, the Summit convenes key stakeholders in the inclusive finance ecosystem to drive collective actions to promote positive change and inclusive growth across the region.
     
    While addressing at the session, Manoj Sharma said "MFIs must first articulate clear value for adopting Digital Financial Services before jumping on board - you need a good plan, being a 'second- mover' is not always a bad thing".
     
    In his interview to the International Finance Magazine, Manoj Sharma said we are seeing that a lot of digital platforms are coming together to broaden the product range. By product range, we not only mean the range of financial services – savings, credit or insurance. As a test case in many countries, the social welfare schemes have started riding on the digital platforms which is very exciting for us.
     
    Unlike banking services for upper, middle levels, where services are delivered from one window, it is a different story for base of the pyramid customers. If they need a credit they need to sit in a group of 5 women. Similarly, there are different windows for savings and insurance. For the first time we are seeing that if its finance, it can be bought under one single window. And that’s exciting and really exciting. See the full interview here. Follow more highlights of the event on Twitter using #FinInclusionSummit. 

  • The Hindu Business Line Publishes MicroSave Article on Soil Health Card


     
    New Delhi, India: March 10, 2017, The Hindu Business Line, a leading Indian business daily, published an article titled ‘Addressing the soil health crisis’, authored by Akhand J Tiwari, Senior Manager, MicroSave and Abhishek Gupta, Associate, MicroSave. The article discusses that indiscriminate fertiliser use is driven by the compulsion to maximise short-term yields. Soil health cards (SHCs), launched by The Prime Minister nation-wide in early 2015 to rejuvenate India’s exhausted soils, need to improve in terms of positioning, marketing communication and distribution, keeping in mind the behavioural cues unearthed by MicroSave
     
    The Green Revolution, probably the greatest achievement of post-independence India, heralded an era of food sufficiency riding on the use of chemical fertilisers. Now, 50 years on, soil health is rapidly declining. There is ample evidence to show that indiscriminate use of fertilisers is the major cause of deteriorating soil health. 
     
    MicroSave recently conducted a study into farming practices in two paddy-producing districts of Andhra Pradesh (West Godavari and Krishna) and elicited farmers’ views on fertilisers, soil health and SHCs. Though the findings relate to a select sample in a specific region, they are indicative of attitudes and practices of kharif paddy farmers across the country. 
     
    The authors suggest in the article that a behavioural approach based on understanding farmers’ realities needs to be used. Many farmers are share-croppers seeking to maximise short-term yields with little care or concern for the long-term health of the soil. Others, who own their land, do not expect their children to farm and “live off the land”. So they aim to maximise short-term yields to finance the education, which is seen as the passport to a job and freedom from the toil of farming.
     
    Read the full article here

  • MicroSave Welcomes Isaac Ondieki as Regional Managing Director- Africa

    We are delighted to announce that today Isaac Ondieki joins us as Regional Managing Director-Africa, as David Cracknell moves to his new role as Global Director for Technical Excellence. 
     
    Isaac joins us from Ernst & Young where he is Executive Director for Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia. Prior to that he was with Deloitte as Associate Director. Isaac brings more than 20 years’ experience in areas including IT related strategy development, financial management, operations improvement, project management, change management and knowledge transfer. His experience and expertise will further strength MicroSave’s capabilities to deliver high quality, large-scale projects.
     
    David moves into a new role where he will lead our efforts to further enhance the quality and creativity of our work, both by leading key projects and by mentoring high potential staff within the organisation.

  • Demonetisation and Digitisation - Business Standard Publishes Findings from MicroSave Study



    New Delhi, India
    : 8th March 2017, Business Standard, a leading English daily from India published an article titled ‘Note Ban Boost for Digital Payments to Stay’. The article highlighted the findings from MicroSave’s Demonetisation and Digitisation Report. Stating the findings from the report, the article mentioned that two-thirds of respondents to continue with electronic-payment modes if ease of doing transactions persists. About a third of those who were using cheques, plastic money or non-cash payments after demonetisation would now go back to cash for many reasons, including behavioral ones as per the survey conducted by MicroSave
     
    This also means two-thirds would continue to use non-cash payment modes, provided there is ease in doing so, revealed the survey conducted to gauge how the pattern of transactions had changed after demonetisation.

    The article quoted Manoj Sharma, Managing director, Asia-Pacific, MicroSave, who said that the study covered Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal. As many as 66 per cent of those covered said they would use non-cash payment systems if sufficient digital acceptance points were developed and training was provided on digital financial services. However, 34 per cent said they would return to using cash because of behavioural and functional issues.
     
    To Read the Demonetisation and Digitisation Report click here. To Read the entire news coverage click here.

  • NPCI Collaborates with MicroSave to Transform Villages into “Cash-lite Villages”




    Bhubaneswar, India
    : 7th March 2017, National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), the umbrella organisation for all retail payment systems in India, has taken up a project to work with State Bank of India and Utkal Grameen Bank in transforming one of the panchayats in Odisha, India as less-cash or "cash-lite" panchayat. NPCI has partnered with MicroSave to design the program of transforming villages. The Panchayat of Karangamal, in the district of Naupada in Boden Block has been identified for the purpose. 
     
    The panchayat comprises of five villages where a week long campaign has started to spread digital awareness. NPCI‟s initiative will boost the digital payments ecosystem through various modes and channels of payments such as USSD based *99#, Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM), Unified Payments Interface (UPI), Immediate Payment Service (IMPS), RuPay card and Aadhar Enabled Payment System (AePS). 

    Mr. A. P. Hota, MD & CEO, NPCI said, “India is currently witnessing a Digital Revolution. We have been credited for platforms like IMPS, AEPS, Rupay Cards, *99#, UPI and BHIM which are a few grounded innovations in payments space. We would like to study the adoption level at villages vis-à-vis towns and cities. This is also an experiment as to whether it is possible to shift the payment behaviour by a focused campaigns in a village.”
     
    Mr. Anil Kumar Gupta, Associate Director, MicroSave said, “Adoption of payments by rural masses is a challenging task. It requires meticulous planning, awareness, and demonstration for the benefit of people. It requires complete support by banks and various stakeholders on the ground. With right approach, the uptake and the results can be magical”.
     
    NPCI in collaboration with MicroSave, has taken a forward looking approach and is implementing a workable model which can be adopted by others in the country towards making villages cash-less / cash-lite. Read the entire press release here. Follow the cash-lite campaign at MicroSave's Twitter handle

Feb 2017

  • Fintech for Finclusion - A MicroSave Workshop




    New Delhi, India: February 24, 2017; SIDBI, DFID and MicroSave organised a knowledge sharing event on technological innovation for financial inclusion. The workshop titled “Using Technology to Build Inclusive Financial Systems” witnessed participation from industry leaders and practitioners to discuss technological advances in the field of inclusive finance. Knowledge sharing is crucial element in achieving the overarching goal of wider technology uptake by MFIs and other the Financial Service Providers (FSPs). 
     
    Post demonetisation the MFI industry has encountered yet another challenge, and to overcome it, the next leap of evolution is required - going cashless/cash-lite by using digital systems is a critical component of this evolution. Digital credit has the potential to solve numerous problems like -

    a. reduce the dependency on cash –transactions can be done remotely, and cash handling costs would reduce
    b. automate and standardise risk assessment – introduce alternate data and therefore reduce the element of subjectivity in credit worthiness evaluation and make the process more efficient
    c. and hence, improve the turnaround time

    These measures will bring down the operating costs of MFIs, the benefits of which can potentially be passed on to borrowers in the long run.

    Scaling new digital solutions requires solving multiple coordination problems, which in turn necessitates a holistic, ecosystem-based approach. And to develop this ecosystem, solutions like India Stack hold the key. This includes use of specific technology - Aadhaar authentication and eKYC, eSign and Digilocker, Unified Payments Interface, and consent architecture - with corresponding public APIs, under India’s Open API policy. 
     
    The objectives of the workshop included: 

    Discuss the latest technology trends and innovations which are likely to impact the FSPs’ ability to reach the poor in a sustainable and scalable manner.

    Highlight trends, challenges, lessons learnt and opportunities for FSPs in adoption of technology.

    Promote interest among FSPs and technology service providers for future collaboration and development of new products/shared services.

    At the event, H. Mahalingam, CTO, Equitas Bank spoke in length about the digital microfinance opportunities and cashless models. Nandakumar Palani, CEO, IFTAS discussed various disruptive technologies for financial inclusion. 

    For more details follow MicroSave on Twitter

  • MicroSave and the MasterCard Foundation Collaborate to Advance DFS in Francophone Africa



    February 1, 2017
    ; MicroSave, in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation, launched a new program to develop tailored training courses in digital financial services (DFS) in francophone markets of Africa. The program is expected to benefit over 250 DFS providers and will focus on the WAEMU region, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Madagascar. Additionally, a DFS knowledge portal in French will be launched as the “go-to” place for information on digital financial services.

    MicroSave’s Réseau Helix will train staff at financial institutions, mobile network operators, third parties and other digital financial services firms so that they better understand choices and options in planning digital financial services, especially for the unbanked.
     
    Shifting from cash-based transactions to formal financial services provides economic benefits and stability not only for poor individuals but also their families and the economy. Expanding financial inclusion through DFS cannot occur, however, if ecosystem players lack an understanding of client needs and how to address them through a compelling offer delivered via accessible, trusted channels. The program announced today will enable francophone markets to access training adapted to the local context. As well, it will provide regional benchmarking data and access to francophone expertise to local financial services enterprises and relevant government bodies.
     
    MicroSave’s Director, Graham Wright, stated, “We are excited to leverage our experiences and expand our knowledge in francophone markets. That’s where we see the opportunity to increase financial inclusion working with regulators, financial institutions, mobile network operators and third party agent network operators.”
     
    Sumaiya Sajjad, Program Manager at The MasterCard Foundation, said, “We believe that successful agent networks hold a strong potential to reach large numbers of unbanked individuals in Sub-Saharan Africa. Our partnership with MicroSave to launch Réseau Helix will help a range of financial institutions to build the technical and strategic capacities of their core leadership and staff, enabling them to better meet client needs through agent networks.”
     
    After hearing about Réseau Helix, Maxime Fado, Head of Mobile Money for Moov in Benin said, “This news will bring us knowledge on best practices in this sector. The French courses offered in West Africa will allow a real focus on the specifics of the service in the local markets.”
     
    Réseau Helix will build upon the lessons from The Helix Institute of Digital Finance and work closely with local providers to offer insights from research and operational experiences. This should lead to a better understanding of appropriate models, products and services to launch or expand DFS solutions. For more details on Reseau Helix contact ElizabethBerthe@microsave.net
     
    For the full press release, please see here

  • Enroll for Digital Money Grid India


    The Digital Frontiers Institute in collaboration with MicroSave is offering a remarkable course for professionals in digital money or digital financial services wanting to develop a fuller understanding of the emerging landscape for digital payments and financial inclusion in India. This self-paced 4 weeks course will require 4-6 hours per week of time and the course will be delivered online in our digital classroom. The course begins 27th March 2017 or 19th June 2017. To enroll click here
     
    Course introduction 
     
    The Government of India has embarked on a remarkable path to connect all its citizens onto a digital platform through which they can confirm their identity and consent to present relevant documentation to and financially transact with anyone else in the country, for whatever purpose, online and in real-time. We call this course as the Digital Money Grid, and it presents an opportunity to close the financial inclusion divide in a country that until recently held the largest number of unbanked people in the world. The Grid rides on public payment infrastructure coming from retail payments and ubiquitous mobile phones. This is linked to a broader e-Government agenda, which has the potential for bringing an unprecedented level of efficiency and transparency into the delivery of a whole range of public and social welfare services.
     
    Who should attend this course?
     
    Digital Money Grid is for professionals in digital money or digital financial services wanting to develop a fuller understanding of the emerging landscape for digital payments and financial inclusion in India. The intended audience includes professionals in India who expect to apply the understanding gained through the course directly in their market, as well as those outside India who want to understand and learn from the Indian model and experience. The course assumes, although it does not require, a background knowledge of digital financial services, such as a student would have after completing DFI’s Certificate in Digital Money.
     
    This course will seek in particular to discover how and why India’s DFS has developed so fast; and what lessons may be derived from this for other countries.
     
    Download the registration form here or write to info@microsave.net
     

Jan 2017

  • Digital Finance to Bank the Unbanked Can Boost GDP by As Much As 6% in Southeast Asia

    Singapore - January 31, 2017 Digital technology that promotes financial inclusion can increase GDP by as much as 6% for economies in Southeast Asia, according to a new report Accelerating Financial Inclusion in Southeast Asia with Digital Finance. The report is jointly published by Asian Development Bank (ADB), global management consulting firm Oliver Wyman, and financial inclusion-focused consulting firm MicroSave.
     
    The study, which looks at digital finance in Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, and the Philippines, is derived from interviews with more than 80 stakeholders across the four markets, extensive secondary research, and economic analysis.
     
    Promoting the use of formal financial services continues to be a challenge in the region and the depth of engagement varies with different financial products. Among the study’s findings, only 18% of adults use a bank account to receive wages or pay utility bills and only 11% borrow from formal sources.
     
    “ADB sees financial inclusion as an essential part of financial sector development,” said Michael Barrow, Director General of ADB’s Private Sector Operations Department. “Without access to formal financial services, the unserved and underserved segments of society will be excluded from growth and its benefits.Digital finance presents a unique and potentially transformative opportunity to advance financial inclusion.”
     
    The research finds that digital financial solutions could play a significant part in closing gaps in financial inclusion, addressing about 40% of the volume of unmet demand for payment services and 20% of the unmet credit needs in the base of pyramid and micro, small, and medium enterprises segments.
     
    Digital financial solutions will have the most significant impact on financial inclusion in five key areas: 
     
    1. Enabling fast, low-cost, and convenient customer identification and verification processes;
    2. Improving supply-side economics with last mile distribution and servicing enabled by mobile phones and point-of-sale devices;
    3. Supporting supply-side business cases with initial push in government-to-person payments and remittance flows;
    4. Enhancing access to alternative sources of data to improve customer profiling, credit risk assessment, and fraud detection;
    5. Mobilizing micro-saving through lower cost digital origination and servicing channels. 
     
    “For this opportunity to be realized, collaboration by different participants in the ecosystem will be critical,” according to Duncan Woods, Head of Oliver Wyman’s Retail & Business Practice in Asia-Pacific. “Public policy and regulatory guidelines can provide the framework to stimulate the development of digital financial solutions, which we expect will materialize through collaborations between banks, telecommunications and financial technology firms, , and NGOs, each bringing specific capabilities along each part of the financial value chain.” 
     
    While digital finance alone cannot close the gaps in financial inclusion, the effect of leveraging digital technology to bank the unbanked could boost GDP by 2% to 3% in markets like Indonesia and the Philippines, and 6% in Cambodia.
     
    Making the most of this opportunity could also help influence the financial services industry, particularly in smaller markets such as Cambodia and Myanmar, where only a small percentage of the current needs for financial services are met by formal providers. 
     
    “Digital finance is the new normal in banking. Financial institutions will have to make this transition and develop distribution models and products for digital finance,” said Manoj Sharma, Managing Director of MicroSave in Asia.
     
    About Asian Development Bank
     
    ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB in December 2016 marked 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region.
     
    About Oliver Wyman
     
    With offices in 50+ cities across 26 countries, Oliver Wyman is a global leader in management consulting that combines deep industry knowledge with specialized expertise in strategy, operations, risk management, and organization transformation. Oliver Wyman is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies [NYSE: MMC]. For more information on Oliver Wyman visit www.oliverwyman.com. Follow Oliver Wyman on Twitter @OliverWyman. 
     
    About MicroSave
     
    MicroSaveis an international financial inclusion consulting firm with nearly 20 years of experience, operating in eleven offices across Asia and Africa. Our mission is to strengthen the capacity of institutions to deliver market-led, scalable financial services for all. We guide policy, provide customised strategic advice and on the ground implementation support to our partners, in key thematic areas such as Digital Financial Services, Inclusive Finance and Banking, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, and Private Sector Development in developing markets. For more information please visit www.microsave.net. Follow MicroSave on Twitter @MicroSave.

  • Enroll for a Great Training on Product Innovation and Development


    The vast majority of digital financial services are still based on P2P and bill payments. How can we move to the next level and offer solutions that meet the mass market’s myriad of financial needs?  The Helix Institute of Digital Finance offers all providers the opportunity to learn how to design successful digital financial services though training. The training on “Product Innovation and Development” is scheduled from March 6-10, 2017 on the beautiful Mombasa, Kenya. See the details of the course here. To download the application form click here
     
    This course takes participants through a systematic process for developing market-responsive products from insight generation, through to design and development.  It is tailored to meet the needs of institutions in need of a market-making anchor product, as well as those looking to expand their product offerings.
     

    Course at a glance:
     
    Participants will learn a systematic process for strategic product development including: 
    The application of market research and behavioral economics to understand how people make money management decisions,
     
    Using this knowledge to build product suites that meet different financial needs, and
    The operational systems and partnerships necessary to deliver products successfully.
     
    Topics to be covered:
     
    DFS Ecosystem & Constraints Framework
    Market Insights for Innovation and Design (MI4ID)
    Building & Managing DFS Partnerships
    Product Pricing & Delivery Channel Rewards
    Technology & Delivery Channels
    Risk & Fraud in Product Development
    Product Marketing & Communications
    Product Evolution: Looking into the Future
     
    Who Should Attend?
    This course targets middle to senior level managers in mobile network operators, banks and other financial institutions as well as third parties who are involved in DFS product development.

  • Using Interoperability to Become Cashless




    New Delhi, India
    : December 22, 2016, LiveMint, a leading English daily published an article titled ‘Using interoperability to become cashless’. The article debates how the recent monetary experiment has provided an opportunity to focus on India’s non-cash payment infrastructure.

    The news item states that the aftermath of the government’s decision to withdraw high-value banknotes have reached fever pitch. In the public discourse on Facebook and Twitter, arguments have usually taken colour from the political affiliation of the commenter; in more hallowed debates among policy wonks and economists, the views appear to be sharply divided on whether the withdrawal will bring net benefits or not. Some influential voices (Kenneth Rogoff, Larry Summers, among others) have argued that this monetary experiment may hurt. Others (like Bibek Debroy, J.R. Varma and Vivek Dehejia) have argued in favour of the withdrawal—that this will operate as a one-time tax on the current float of unaccounted-for wealth stored in cash while whiplashing the consumer economy into digital (or plasticized) transactions. Regardless of the merits of the measure, however, what seems certain is that unless the government and regulators act swiftly to put in place infrastructure facilitating digital transactions, the potential positives will remain just that—potential positives.

    One such critical infrastructural necessity is the interoperability of prepaid payment instruments (PPI), popularly known as wallets. While interoperability has several dimensions, in its simplest form it is the ability of, say, a Paytm user to transact with a merchant/user that uses another wallet (say, Freecharge). The ATM provides the most visible example of interoperability in retail finance. You walk into the ATM of any bank and swipe a card issued by your bank and withdraw cash. The card/point-of-sale terminal ecosystem is another example of interoperability. Interoperability is said to have pro-competitive effects and also promote financial inclusion.

    The authors of the article are Sakshi Chadha, Manager, MicroSave and Mandar Kagade, Policy Analyst, Bharti Institute of Public Policy, Indian School of Business. Read the entire article here

  • DFS: Are We Realising Their Full Potential? Join us for a discussion on 19th Jan 2017, London


    To register for this event log in to the website or email the Financial Forum coordinator for a First Time pass at - admin@financialinclusionforum.org.uk. 

    Digital financial services are now being touted as the answer to financial inclusion. But there are growing concerns that DFS primarily focuses almost exclusively on payments – not least of all because the mobile network operators are leading the charge, and banks typically remain laggards.
    Having asked the poor to run the marathon out of poverty on one leg (microcredit), are we doing the same again by asking them to run the race with digital payments alone? We know that the poor need a range of financial services (savings, credit, insurance and payments) and thus real financial inclusion must necessarily provide all of these. Further details are available on 

    So how do we move DFS beyond payments? And are we doing enough?

    About the speakers:
    Graham A.N. Wright founded MicroSave and is currently its Group Managing Director. Graham has been deeply involved in digital financial services (DFS) from the days he sat on the original steering committee for M-PESA and supported its initial pilot-testing process. He has worked on a wide variety of DFS projects with banks and telcos in Bangladesh, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. 

    Anant Nautiyal is a Manager for the Mobile Money Programme at GSMA. In this role, Anant manages engagements in markets with mobile operators to foster collaborative ecosystem initiatives (such as merchant payments, PAYG service provider payments, interoperability and more). Prior to joining GSMA, Anant worked at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in Geneva, and in philanthropic and consulting roles in the ‘mobile for development’ space.