Research & Analysis

Mystery Shopping for Financial Services

Mystery shopping is a tool that involves sending consumers to places of business, government agencies, or other service providers to simulate a typical customer inquiry. By conducting mystery shopping visits, we can better understand important financial inclusion issues such as differentiated treatment of low-income or inexperienced consumers, quality of product advice, and compliance with consumer protection rules such as pricing transparency and disclosure.

This Technical Guide summarizes in an easy “how-to” manner CGAP’s experience conducting mystery shopping for a range of products. The guide provides information on how to design, execute, and analyze mystery shopping exercises for financial services. This includes descriptions of the several stages of implementing a mystery shopping program, and actual field guides such as questionnaires, shopper training materials and sales staff surveys.

The guide and research tools presented are based on mystery shopping research conducted by CGAP, the World Bank, development agencies, and financial supervisors in seven markets with low-income consumers that included products such as savings, loan, insurance, and credit card products (Colombia, Ghana, Kenya [both for banking services and for digitization of food aid payment], Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, and the Philippines).

Through this Technical Guide policymakers, financial service providers and researchers will learn how to design mystery shopping research that uses actual consumers to conduct the mystery shopping visits. Through the use of actual consumers from targeted population segments this tool enables measurement of consumer protection issues during the sales process as well as possible barriers to financial inclusion and uptake.

Related Resources


In Mexico, a mystery shopping exercise completed by The World Bank, CGAP, and CONDUSEF highlighted significant gaps between what is required by law and what is happening on the ground.