What do we mean by Financial Inclusion?
Financial inclusion is a concept that embodies an ethos of not only extending the reach of financial services and the capacity of financial service providers, but ensuring that those services are appropriate for their intended market.
In developed economies, where the majority of individuals do have access to formal banking services, the primary focus is on how appropriate those services are to the needs of the excluded and how to encourage their take-up. In the UK, for example, Direct Debits from bank accounts are inherently bad for those on low or variable incomes, since not knowing quite when you’ll have money in your account can lead to large penalty charges for failed payments. An example of an innovative solution to this problem could involve (for example) utility providers adopting a different approach. By requesting payment from customers through the provider’s app – which many already make available – and allowing an option to defer for a few days, at no or minimal charge, penalties could be avoided. The providers themselves would benefit from increased administrative efficiencies in managing customer payments, and would probably receive the money more quickly than the conventional way. This fits within a general ethos of achieving financial inclusion through the mechanisms of providing better information, control, budgeting and flexibility.
In developing economies the term financial inclusion generally refers to enabling organisations to extend the reach of their services into the unbanked market, for example by creating a mechanism to provide services to remote rural communities, or creating financial services at a cost that is appropriate to lower-income communities, or developing an increased capacity to provide services to the majority of the population – or indeed a combination of all three.
Unconventional services, such as mobile money, utilise existing infrastructure and relationships to deliver savings, loans and remittance services to markets that were previously underserved.
Our unrivalled experience in developing and delivering services aimed at financial inclusion in both the developed and the emerging markets means that Consult Hyperion is able to support its clients at every stage of the business cycle of launching such a service.
Our practice draws on experience gained advising on technology, business models and regulatory best practices globally, and designing and delivering services aimed at building financial inclusion.
We have been active in mobile money since the technology’s earliest days, when we assisted Vodafone in the development of M-PESA in Kenya. We conceived of the concepts behind mobile money, and worked with a small Vodafone team to develop those concepts into a pilot service. We developed many of the ideas and operational procedures behind agent management, including the structure of agents and super agents, and continued to play a crucial role in the early days after the launch of M-PESA in Kenya in 2007. After its launch we developed offline extensions to the M-PESA service in support of the Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP), as well as reviewing the operational procedures of HSNP itself. Our knowledge, gained from delivering a huge range of such projects across the globe, means clients can be sure that their chosen strategies are informed, pragmatic and appropriate to local circumstances. We work with our clients throughout the entirety of the business cycle (as appropriate) to help them face various technical, operational and regulatory challenges. We are fully equipped to design, build and operate services.
THE RIGHT STRATEGY
Our research into local markets means we can define trends and behaviours to help Banks, NGOs, MMOs and MNOs create informed decisions on product innovation and strategy.
To this end, our work with Telefonica O2 included assessing the impact of a pilot scheme which utilised O2 Money to enable low income groups in the North of England to manage their finances more effectively.
We produce insights based on a depth of industry knowledge acquired through relevant on the ground experience, in countries as diverse as the UK, USA, Bangladesh, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Somalia and Nigeria.
SECURE SERVICE DESIGN
Our expertise in identifying opportunities, risk analysis and requirements gathering enables us to design business processes and innovative product solutions that accommodate widespread access alongside a solid foundation for future innovation.
As part of the Safer Corridor initiative, Consult Hyperion worked with the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), the World Bank and FSD Africa to specify the details of an innovative pilot which is aimed at addressing the specific needs of the UK – Somalia remittance corridor, using technology to develop the trust that is missing in the current environment.
ON TIME IMPLEMENTATION
With our in house development team and our experience in producing customised business plans, we develop fit for purpose technical solutions alongside scalable business models that promote the economic security of localised markets.
We worked with Privacy Value Networks alongside University College London and funding from Innovate UK to develop a feature phone application for low income demographics. The app made it easier for users to track their finances and encouraged them to save money.
From within our core team and through our worldwide network of associate consultants, we are able to assist our clients when they deploy their products and services. From technical support to agent network management, we can provide support at every level to accommodate client needs.
Just one example: Consult Hyperion successfully delivered and operated the Token Administration Platform (TAP), which was used by our team to register more than 500,000 subsistence farmers in Nigeria’s FCT and Sokoto states, and to distribute electronic vouchers to them and support voucher redemption. The e-vouchers (restricted cash) were distributed as part of the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Development’s Growth Enhancement Scheme (GES) and provided farmers with subsidies on fertiliser, seeds and other agricultural inputs.
More information about TAP and TeMS, the e-money extension, can be found here.
In over 15 years working within the financial inclusion domain we have built up an extensive base of relationships with key players internationally. Our partnerships and intricate knowledge of local influencers means the solutions we deliver to clients are well positioned to impact their chosen markets.
We deliver commercially sustainable projects that improve access to financial services and stimulate economic growth.
Our Financial Inclusion practice is led by Mr Paul Makin.
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