Beyond access to financial services, the focus of the annual Global Policy Forum (GPF) of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion — a peer learning network of regulators from 90+ countries — was on deepening the value addition to low-income consumers in emerging markets. The ability of financial services providers to reach these consumers has been completely transformed by digital financial services. Massive access has been made possible largely through mobile wallets and cash-in, cash-out agent networks located where bank branches are unprofitable to place. While more needs to be done to enable access — including expansion of mobile infrastructure and digital identity for all — this year’s GPF focused on what needs to be done to ensure that not only is every woman reached, but she is served well. This “deepening” of financial inclusion moves beyond basic mobile wallets, nano-loans, microinsurance and savings to include innovations in risk management, such as micro-pensions and agri-insurance for climate change mitigation, financial and business education via app, and networking via social media/eCommerce platforms, to name but a few.
Regulatory “sandboxes” that allow small-scale, live testing of innovations by the private sector are an important plank for any regulator focusing on financial inclusion. In that vein, this month we are proud to welcome our first FinTech as a member: Lidh. Operating in the vastly underserved Mexican market, where women are particularly un/underserved, Lidh is integrating women’s specific needs into the design of its products. Starting with a digital account and Lidh Card that enables payments, the company is planning on introducing consumer and business loans that will reward women for their lower NPLs with lower payments and is also integrating an online financial education component before credit is offered. The digital account will also offer the opportunity to invest in Government Paper with two clicks of the mobile or web app, allowing many women to become investors for the first time.
Speaking of designing for women, this month we are also proud to announce the launch of a new Task Force, in collaboration with Alliance member Mastercard, to design and implement value-add payment solutions for the Women’s Market. The first session kicks off October 3rd and all members are encouraged to join. Built on the 200,000 interviews Mastercard conducted worldwide into gendered payment patterns in 2017, the company is offering fellow Alliance members a unique opportunity to work with Mastercard Labs and their design thinking approach to improve existing solutions or create innovative payment solutions tailored to the needs of specific women’s segments. This is explicitly not about “pink washing,” but rather how to add unique and value-added financial and non-financial services solutions to women. The offer builds on the success of Banco BHD León’s Mujer Mujer card, which saw 3x more spent on the card versus the bank’s other cards, a 2x increase in average ticket and a 1.6x increase in transactions. By the end of this Task Force, participants will have a unique customer value proposition, an established go-to-market strategy and a business case. For the Alliance, this marks a milestone in members doing business with one another, creating greater value for the Women’s Market by leveraging their unique capabilities.
We all know that delivering to women means much more than a product solution and also that digitization of financial services is bringing new forms of competition to incumbent banks. Never on the back foot, Westpac decided to overhaul its approach to service delivery by being there in the moments that matter for women, after in-depth research revealed that 70 percent of Australians who switched banks had experienced a significant life event in the previous year. This has created new and lasting relationships with the customer, and theirs and other cases from Alliance members are explored in our Resource of the Month: Life Moments: Being There in The Moments That Matter.
Many of our members are just starting their journey into women’s markets, and many are also at the point of trying to scale. For members with this profile and for those financial services providers that are seriously considering entering the Women’s Market but are not yet members, we encourage you to participate in one of two of our upcoming in-person peer learning events: the All-Stars Americas, taking place in Quito, Ecuador, November 11-15; and a Study Tour to BLC Bank in Lebanon, including participation in their wonderful Brilliant Lebanese Awards ceremony, November 18-20. As always, each are taught by fellow members, which is the essence of the Alliance’s success.
As part of our ongoing efforts to create accessible services for members, our newest e-service, Ask the Expert, is launching on September 26th, allowing members to get a direct link to some of the most successful women’s financial experience practitioners. This new service will be delivered on the last Thursday of each month, with a different expert anchoring each session based on their expertise in the session’s topic. Our first session is about the business case for serving women. Whether you are pitching the idea to senior leaders in your organization and need them to understand the opportunity, spreading the message across your institution to get your peers’ buy-in, or proving the profitability and necessity of maintaining a strategy targeting women to your management, the business case remains an integral part of your efforts. Our expert for this first session is our former chair, Tania Moussallem, who has ample knowledge on this topic and will share her insights and answer your questions. To send in your questions in advance or to register to attend the session, kindly reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last but not least, this month we have a short round-up of member news. We thank all our members, our partners and our other colleagues in this vast and interesting movement for being the changemakers that you are.