Mark Pickens

Mark Pickens is a Director of Emerging Market Solutions at Visa Inc. He’s based in Kigali, where he is part of the team working on the launch of an interoperable mobile money ecosystem in Rwanda. Mark joined Visa in 2011 with a decade of experience designing financial products geared to reaching unbanked consumers. Prior to Visa, Mark helped design and launch CGAP’s Technology Program which was one of the earliest socially-motivated investors at the nexus of electronic delivery channels and financial services for unbanked consumers. He has consulted to banks, mobile network operators, microfinance institutions, and technology start-ups in two dozen markets. His work is quoted in Wired, The Economist and The Banker, and he has instructed on microfinance at Wharton School of Business and Johns Hopkins. Pickens studied at the Institute of Design at Stanford University and holds a Master’s from Columbia University. He has lived and worked extensively in Africa and Asia, and is currently based in Rwanda.

By Mark Pickens


New Rwanda Diaries Ask, “Can We Build A Better Goat?”

Portfolios of Rwanda is a new report that analyzes the daily cash flows of Rwandan households to better understand their financial needs. In many cases, the challenge is no longer an issue of access to financial services, but one of relevant products.

Financially Inclusive Ecosystems: The Roles of Government Today

This Focus Note first describes the challenges of the broader financial inclusion landscape and then explores three promising roles government can play in developing more financially inclusive ecosystems.

“When Product Innovation Meets Agile Development”

This post describes a second key feature of the three Product Labs which will be established by CGAP’s bank, telco and other partners.


What Can We Learn From Selling Soap?

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.

Faster Horses or Better Insights?

Customers often can’t or won’t tell you what they want, so you must work to dig down to what they really need. Valuable services not only meet a deeply-felt need, they tackle a poorly met need.