At the end of the day, we suspect interoperable systems will accelerate financial inclusion by allowing customers to use the infrastructure of multiple service providers to access their accounts. The question is how best do we get there?
One of the exciting and yet challenging aspects of the branchless banking industry is how fast things change. Topics discussed just 3 months ago can seem out of date today. That’s why it’s fun to look back over the topics we blogged about in 2011 starting from last January to see how the discussion has evolved over the last 12 months.
Our discussions on branchless banking on this blog do not often touch on the role of microfinance institutions (MFIs). The main actors in this space seem to be mobile network operators, commercial banks, larger microfinance banks and technology companies. We have done a bit of thinking on microfinance and mobile banking, notably in this Focus Note and at this Virtual Conference.
I’ve been intrigued to see several recent new stories spouting off about the grandiose vision of a cashless society. To a certain extent I thought we had moved past this debate. While recognizing it as desirable, this high and mighty goal seems somewhat unattainable, at least in the short to medium term.
A few weeks ago in Washington, DC, we hosted many of our partners who are implementing branchless banking products and services around the world. This was a chance not only for us to learn about the state of play of the industry at a global level, but also to allow the partners themselves to share learnings and experiences with each other.
We all remember the devastating 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti in January 2010 reportedly destroying about one-third of the country’s bricks-and-mortar bank branches, limiting Haitians’ ability to send and receive money transfers, cash checks, or simply access much-needed cash resources.
Everyone is always talking about trying to move the branchless banking industry beyond just payments. Those of us concerned with accelerating “real financial inclusion” long to see credit, savings and insurance products pushed over new delivery channels. But is it possible that there’s still work to be done within the payments space itself, just diversifying a bit beyond simple P2P transfers?
This post includes a detailed presentation of CGAP’s analysis of 23 firms from banking, microfinance, mobile, fast moving consumer goods, and Silicon Valley. It also describes the key features of three Product Labs which will be established by CGAP’s bank, telco and other partners.
Reaching the poor with a range of useful, convenient, and affordable financial services is challenging for all the reasons we know. In the context of Mexico, access has increased significantly in the past few years (nearly 60% of all households), and changes in regulation enabling correspondent banking are likely to bring the access barrier down even further. However, the challenge of delivering a relevant offering, tailored to the needs of the lower-income population still remains. This may be one of the reasons why many people who have access to formal financial services are not using them.