Three years ago, the Mastercard Foundation organized the first Clients at the Centre Prize. The intent was simple: to celebrate organizations across the globe that fundamentally base the success of their businesses, products, and services on the depth to which they understand and meet the financial services needs of poor people. These organizations embed client value and protection into everything they do, and we wanted to recognize them.
Each year since then, the Prize has been awarded during our Symposium on Financial Inclusion (SoFI). Three finalists come before the audience and are given six minutes to “pitch” why they should win the Prize. They outline how they operationalize client centricity for the purposes of positively impacting the lives of people with low incomes.
1) The need to use all tools at their disposal, such as insights from behavioural psychology, to understand more deeply the needs, wants and expectations of people currently excluded from formal financial products and services; and
2) The potential for innovative partnerships between financial service providers and others (i.e. fintech firms or mobile network operators) to reach new groups of disadvantaged people, offering the financial products and services most appropriate to their life situations.
With four keynote speeches, the awarding of The MasterCard Foundation’s ‘Clients at the Centre Prize,’ a vigorous formal debate on the merits of digital financial services, and a deep dive into the financial inclusion progress that Rwanda has made, the Symposium offered attendees (and those following it on social media) a far-reaching, state-of-the-sector analysis.
To see videos of all sessions, as well as accompanying transcripts and a list of those who attended, please go here.
(This blog post originally appeared on the Next Billion Financial Innovation web site on November 15, 2016).
For the past four years, The MasterCard Foundation has convened its Symposium on Financial Inclusion, and every year we have helped to move the needle toward greater inclusion for Africa’s poorest people. As many know, the event brings together the most thoughtful individuals working on behalf of financial service providers (FSPs) or other organizations to accelerate access to the products and services that will increase economic activity and create livelihoods in Africa. Read More“Inclusion is Not an End in Itself”: Takeaways from SoFI2016
A highlight of Day 1 at SoFI2016 was the live panel discussion on CNBC Africa, hosted by news anchor Nozipho Mbanjwa, moderating Herman Smit, Centfri; Rose Goslinga, Pula-Advisors; and Paul Kweheria, KCB Group. Watch the full panel discussion on YouTube.
The activities on Day 2 of #SoFI2016, the Symposium on Financial Inclusion, also trended in the 4th place slot on Twitter, and highlights include the awarding of the Clients at the Centre Prize and the SoFI debate on financial inclusion and client centredness. Our Storify board summarizes the main points of debate.
Starting back in the 1980s with the launch of Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, the concept of inclusive growth has been instrumental in fighting poverty and providing opportunities for marginalised communities to uplift themselves. An important element of inclusive growth over the years has been productive employment, with people in rural areas being given the means to access more services – including financial services.
When it comes to the provision of fintech services, however, which combine advances in digital and mobile technology with financial applications, inclusivity is not a prominent feature. Indeed, the impressive rise of fintech companies and entrepreneurs has, to date, been focused on developed markets, with the provision of products and services aimed at customers who already enjoy a degree of sophisticated banking and financial technologies. Read MoreWhat Makes ‘Inclusive Fintech’ Truly Inclusive?
In almost all African countries there is a large unmet demand for access to credit and other financial services on the part of smallholder farmers, who, in most countries, represent the majority of the population. In fact, according to Dalberg Consulting, only two percent of the demand for credit among smallholder farmers is currently being met.
The rapid rise of smartphones, however, coupled with new entrants such as fintechs (financial technology firms) that are capitalizing on this new delivery channel to reach the poor, is providing new opportunities for groundbreaking innovation. Read MoreAccelerating Rural Access to Fintech