The Bankwatch

Tracking the consumer evolution of financial services

Archive for the ‘unbanked’ Category

How much about the approach to Branchless Banking is driven by incorrect assumptions?


Johan picked up on my post about mobile loans, but interestingly pointed to an Economist article in November entitled A bank in every pocket?

Mobiles bankieren in die EU. « – was einer so denkt –

Bis jetzt hatte ich gedacht, dass das eine afrikanische Tradition wäre. Ich finde das ganz spannend.

Translated:
Until now, I had thought that this would be an African tradition.
  I find this very exciting.

I have covered the African mobile phone market, and this article builds on what is happening there. 

These “branchless” schemes typically allow customers to deposit and
withdraw cash through a mobile operator’s airtime-resale agents, and
send money to other people via text messages that can be exchanged for
cash by visiting an agent. Workers can then be paid by phone;
taxi-drivers and delivery-drivers can accept payments without carrying
cash around; money can be easily sent to friends and family. A popular
use is to deposit money before making a long journey and then withdraw
it at the other end, which is safer than carrying lots of cash.

Lots going on, BUT what really struck me was this sentence.

There is no need to set up a national network of branches or cash
machines.

So, what are we saying here.  The unbanked, those “poor” folks who for whatever reason have no access to ‘real’ banking services are in fact getting true Direct Banking!!!  [emphasis and sarcasm thrown in for free]

In North America, we are insulated from true creativity in financial services, partly by how Banks’ think, but probably even more by what consumers expect.  When you live in the middle of an incredibly poor area with nominal resources, such as Africa, it seems you can get accept total creativity in Direct Banking/ Branchless Banking, that would not work in North America.  Or would it?

How much about the approach to Branchless Banking is driven by incorrect assumptions?  Maybe, just maybe, our approach to creative solutions is limited by the current environment.  If we approached Direct Banking as Africa has done, and assumed no current resources, what kind of solution might we be able to develop that might address the business case challenges. 

Written by Colin Henderson

January 24, 2008 at 02:15

Significant differences between “subprime” and “underbanked/credit underserved.”


When you see new conferences begin and continue, it means there is a significant strategy moves afoot in the Banking industry.  This conference on the “Unbanked” is the 3rd annual. 

3rd Annual Underbanked Financial Services Forum

There has never been a better time to court the underbanked market, which continues to be one of the most promising areas of new and enhanced growth for the financial services industry. To achieve this, it is important to understand the significant differences between “subprime” and “underbanked/credit underserved.”

Its interesting to read the kinds of topics, and that provides insight into what is happening, e.g.

  • Pioneering financial institutions integrating underbanked strategies into enterprise-wise solutions
  • Savings programs: Sustainable paths to a prosperous future
  • Maximizing check cashing as a gateway product to the underbanked
  • Opportunities for reaching the underbanked through retail distribution
  • Latin American consumer lending: Using market knowledge to combat risk
  • Serving the underbanked with alternative credit solutions

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Written by Colin Henderson

December 27, 2007 at 13:07

Posted in unbanked

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