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Third Annual Clients at the Centre Prize Inspires Focus on Clients in Need

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Ann Miles, Director of Financial Inclusion at the Mastercard foundation (left) with Buhle Goslar, Director of Customer Intelligence at Jumo, winner of the 2017 Mastercard Foundation Clients at the Centre Prize.

Jumo wins the $150,000 award for its large-scale, low-cost financial services marketplace

 Since the first Symposium on Financial Inclusion (SoFI) in 2013, our focus has been on client centricity, a business approach that places clients at the heart of a company’s philosophy, products, and services.

Three years ago at SoFI, the Foundation awarded the first annual $150,000 Clients at the Centre Prize to recognize companies with high-impact financial products and services designed specifically for poor people in emerging markets.

This year, some 400 SoFI attendees voted to select the third annual Clients at the Centre Prize winner on November 8th in Accra, Ghana. The audience heard pitches from three finalists selected by an international panel of judges from a pool of 88 entrants.

The 2017 Clients at the Centre Prize winner is Jumo, a large-scale, low-cost financial services marketplace based in South Africa.

A New Way to Determine Creditworthiness

Jumo’s multi-sided mobile platform obtains and analyzes behavioral data from local mobile service providers in Sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia. It then provides customers with a “Jumo Score,” a replacement for the traditional credit score, which many poor clients do not have.

A Jumo Score rates credit worthiness based on client smartphone or feature phone usage patterns, such as how much they spend to buy airtime and, particularly, how they use their mobile money wallet.

The mobile platform lets banks compete to provide poor individuals and MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) with real-time mobile financial services, such as loans and savings products. The data can also help target users with products they are likely to need.

Andrew Watkins-Ball, Jumo’s chief executive, explains: “A $20 loan that can be accessed without collateral in the middle of the night in a rural village can mean the difference between getting a sick person to hospital and going without medical care. For a micro-entrepreneur who deals in single-digit dollar amounts, a similar amount can have a major impact on the ability to buy stock effectively at greater volumes and lower prices.”

That bodes well for clients and financial service providers: the bigger the marketplace, the lower the costs for clients.

Particularly valuable in rural areas, mobile-only technology has been the key to overcoming barriers of traditional banking systems. According to the 2015 World Bank FINDEX report, mobile services help to fill a tremendous gap for individuals who do not have access to a bank account. For example, in Sub-Saharan Africa, 12 percent of adults, or 64 million adults, have mobile money accounts; 45 percent of them have only a mobile money account.

Worthy Competitors

The other two Prize finalists at SoFI 2017 were also recognized for sustainable, high-impact client-centric models.

Award-winning ftcash is a fast-growing mobile payments platform that empowers India’s 60+ million underserved micro-merchants to accept mobile payments, advertise, make loans, and engage customers using only a bank account and a feature phone. The open platform aggregates all payment methods, including credit/debit cards, net banking, various mobile wallets, UPI, and PayPal.

Destacame, a free online platform in Latin America, gives users control over their personal data to build their financial capabilities and to access financial products. Destacame empowers people to demonstrate to financial institutions that they are good payers based on their payment behavior with utilities. It also enables consumers to download their individual financial report and see how the financial system views them.

Continuing a Strong Tradition

Jumo is third in a line of exceptional organizations that have been awarded the Clients at the Centre Prize for putting clients and their needs at the heart of their business models.

The first Prize was awarded in 2015 to BIMA, for providing client-centered, mobile-delivered microinsurance and health services in emerging markets, where 93% of its customers live on less than $10/day.

Today, just four years after its founding, the Swedish company has raised $75 million in capital and is recognized as a leading provider of mobile-delivered microinsurance. It serves 24 million customers in 14 emerging markets and reports that it is adding 575,000 new customers per month, 75 percent of whom are accessing insurance for the first time.

BIMA’s mobile phone app was designed for a five-minute registration process, with five brief questions and no paperwork. BIMA uses live agents to educate prospective clients on its services. Clients can make pay-as-you-go payments via mobile or use pre-paid tele-doctor services.

Hello Paisa was the winner in 2016, and was recognized for its innovative work in South Africa to facilitate international money transfers from foreign workers. The mobile phone-based platform enables users to deposit, withdraw, or transfer money easily and inexpensively. Its platform provides the technology different banks need to perform transactions with each other. It also enables users to send, receive, or deposit funds by visiting local agents.

It was originally designed in 2009 as a mobile phone wallet where clients can perform transactions via the internet, dedicated internet voice system, or SMS technology.

Hello Paisa’s growth is expected to continue as recent changes in regulations support the company’s ability to interact with network operators and merchants directly and independently.

Ann Miles, Director of Financial Inclusion at the Mastercard Foundation, summarized the importance of client centricity to universal financial inclusion: “The benefits of access to finance for individuals, having the ability to save, borrow, and transfer money, and also to insure themselves, are well understood. We’ve seen significant progress recently but the world can only achieve universal financial inclusion if financial service providers truly understand the unique context and needs of poor people.”

Shining a light on those focusing on the needs and expectations of people living in poverty encourages an open exchange of ideas, and helps increase awareness and acceptance that financial inclusion through tech-enabled financial services benefits us all.

Learn more about our investment in greater financial inclusion. 

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Henri Vies

Environics

SoFI2016

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