Otoritas Jasa Keuangan (OJK), the Financial Services Authority of Indonesia, recently granted operating licenses to 10 Islamic microfinance institutions (MFIs) in the country. The MFIs are funded by unspecified donors wishing to encourage
“Digital Wallet Adoption for the Oral Segment in India: Concept Development for MoWo (Mobile Wallet for Oral);” by Brett Hudson Matthews, Richa Valechha, Vivek Anand, Avantika Kushwaha, Saborni Poddar and Rachit Ohri; published by MicroSave; May 2017; 50 pages, available at:
The authors describe a project conducted during 2016 in India on the Mobile Wallet for Oral (MoWo), a mobile-money service designed for the “oral” market segment, which includes 264 million people in the country who have low reading-skill levels. A group of 310 participants from various communities were subjected to “signing, reading and numeracy” tests. Thereafter, 138 people of varying literacy levels participated in focus groups on the user interface of the mobile wallet. Finally, 29 participants performed usability testing.
The study indicates that: (1) the majority of oral adults cannot comprehend large numbers, experiencing severe trouble with figures of four or more digits; (2) most oral Indians cannot identify the symbol for rupees; and (3) participating women had weaker “mental calculation skills” than men. The strengths of the lower-level oral segment include the ability to: (1) read numbers with one or two digits; (2) manipulate 4-digit sums (with the aid of colors, shapes and images); and (3) perform rudimentary mental calculations. In contrast, the higher-level “neo-numerate” population was able to decode three-digit numbers and exhibit “reasonable fluency” in reading. As a result of these findings, the following features have been added to MoWo: (1) new icons that are more easily recognized; (2) a limit of five elements per screen for visual simplicity; and (3) images of cash equivalents next to account balances.
“The Long Road to Branchless Banking,” by Nathan Were and Helen Lin, published by FINCA International, September 2017, 21 pages, available at:
Mr Were and Ms Lin detail the rollout by the Foundation for International Cooperation (FINCA International) of agency banking in Africa, beginning with a pilot in 2012 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and then expanding into Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zambia. The FINCA affiliates in each country contracted with banking agents to process transactions using “point-of-sale (POS) terminals, mobile phones, barcode scanners, or computers” outside of FINCA branches. The agents perform deposits; withdrawals; loan disbursals; account transfers; available-balance checks; and payment deliveries for services such as electricity, television and mobile phones.
FINCA found that some of its staff members were hesitant to support the use of agents for fear of losing their own jobs. The authors argue that careful monitoring of performance indicators can help develop robust “incentive structures” to retain both agents and FINCA staff. The authors also stress the importance of evaluating the technology to be deployed in terms of scalability, ease of user training and the proximity of the vendor to the service locations.
The authors also caution that reductions in transaction costs do not surface until the agency channel attains significant scale. However, they argue that a long-term investment in agency banking networks can reduce risks, reduce transaction costs, increase the accessibility of financial services and improve the customer experience.
“Reference Framework: Gender Equality,” published by Développement international Desjardins, August 2016, 16 pages, available at:
Based on the idea that equality between men and women is pivotal for creating sustainable economic growth in developing markets, the authors of this paper describe measures that can reduce barriers for women in accessing financial services. From 2011 to 2014, the percentage of women with a bank account grew from 47 percent to 58 percent. However, this leaves a gap of 9 percentage points between men and women. Moreover, 70 percent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) owned by women in developing economies report being “served poorly or not at all by financial institutions.”
Simply giving men and women the same opportunities can be insufficient. The authors suggest implementing gender-specific policies that account for past discrimination and are tailored to the gender norms of the society in question. Creating such policies requires an understanding of the local “social, cultural and economic context” and the collection of “gender-sensitive” data. Implementation must include ensuring women have access to financial education and entrepreneurial as well as services from a diverse array of financial institutions. Financial institutions must also hire more women as loan officers. Lastly, the authors advise creating “specific financial products” targeting parts of value chains historically dominated by women.
In closing, the authors cite a 2015 study by McKinsey & Company that estimates closing the gap between men and women would add USD 28 billion to global GDP in 2025.
By Aleks Marceau, Research Associate
Sources and additional resources:
Mobile Wallet for Oral Market:
Agency Banking in Africa:
DiD’s gender equity framework:
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The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, recently lent USD 7 million to Opportunity Bank Serbia (OBS) for on-lending to farmers as well as micro- and small enterprises with the intent of helping
KCB Bank Rwanda, a subsidiary of the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) Group, recently announced the creation of Mobiloan, a platform that allows customers to access
Two organizations that facilitate lending to people and small businesses with limited credit histories, US-based Entrepreneurial Finance Lab (EFL) and Singapore-based Lenddo, recently merged. Prior to the merger, the organizations had completed a total of 5 million
The Tanzanian affiliate of the US-based Foundation for International Community Assistance (FINCA International) recently began offering a service called HaloYako that allows people to open savings accounts via mobile phones. There is no fee to use the service or maintain the associated account. In fact, customers can earn
Visa, a “global payments technology” company headquartered in the US state of California, recently announced that the first grant from its newly initiated Visa Foundation will benefit Women’s World Banking, a nonprofit organization based in the US city of New York that works through a network of 49 financial institutions across 31 countries to help
The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) continues to resist suggestions that it soften the decree it made in December 2016 that all financial institutions boost their local-currency lending to 10 percent of their portfolios by December 2019. NBC Director General Chea Serey reportedly said foreign banks struggling to meet the new threshold should partner with microfinance institutions (MFIs) because
Camilla Nestor, who recently worked for the US-based Grameen Foundation, has been named CEO of the US-based nonprofit MIX, which seeks to increase financial inclusion by promoting transparency. The Chief Operating Officer of MIX, Blaine Stephens, said “Camilla’s extensive knowledge of these sectors augments MIX’s efforts to address information gaps constraining the development of emerging segments including smallholder agricultural finance and
CGAP (the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor), a nonprofit research center seeking to expand financial services in poor regions, recently announced the establishment of the Platform for Economic Inclusion (PEI) to “accelerate innovation and scaling of graduation-style programming.” Initiated by Bangladeshi NGO BRAC (formerly the Bangladesh Rehabilitation Assistance Committee) in 2011, the graduation approach involves: targeting only
A unit of Austrian fund manager C-Quadrat, C-Quadrat Asset Management, recently informed MicroCapital that a Nicaraguan microfinance institution (MFI) was among the beneficiaries of the equivalent of USD 12 million that its Dual Return Vision Microfinance funds lent during October. The other borrowers are located elsewhere in Central and South America as well as
The UK-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the EU and the European Investment Advisory Hub recently created a program to provide
Entities of two Dutch institutions, the government-controlled development bank FMO and the foundation-controlled Triodos Bank, recently invested equity in Nicaragua’s Financiera FAMA for the first time. In addition,
Milliman Inc., an international consulting and actuarial firm headquartered in the US city of Seattle, recently acquired the MicroInsurance Centre (MIC), a for-profit consulting firm based in the US state of Wisconsin that provides “product development, research, and advocacy” services relating to insurance services to poor people. The terms of the agreement have
A group of 75 women recently completed nine-month microfinance apprenticeships in the Afghan provinces of Balkh, Herat and Kabul. Eleven of these have been offered paid positions within the microfinance institutions (MFIs) at which they trained, Afghan Rural Finance Company, the First Microfinance Bank of Afghanistan, the Foundation for International Community Assistance (FINCA) Afghanistan and Oxus Afghanistan. Three additional MFIs, Mutahid, Exchangerzone and Hand in Hand, have agreed to host women apprentices in the future.
The program was funded by
Event Name: 14th Annual Global Microfinance Forum
Event Date: March 15 – March 16, 2018
Event Location: Munich, Germany
Summary of Event: This conference will include sessions on microleasing, “green” microcredit, managing foreign exchange risk, crowdfunding, serving small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), technology, leveraging guarantees
Singapore-based alternative credit scoring firm MicroMoney and Netherlands-domiciled peer-lending NGO Karma recently announced a partnership to work toward their shared “mission to help billions of people to be financially included” in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. MicroMoney will access repayment data from
The National Bank for Foreign Economic Activity of Uzbekistan (NBU) recently opened credit lines totaling USD 100 million with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), a UK-based development finance institution. USD 70 million of the total is earmarked to on-lend to micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises, with the remainder allocated to