Extending the reach of formal financial services to include the very poor living in the most remote areas of the developing world, is not a new idea. And yet three quarters of the world’s poor still have no access to a bank account, reports the World Bank in their global survey.
The problem is the high cost of secure and reliable financial services, particularly in inaccessible rural areas. The solution is already out there argued Bill Gates at the Alliance for Financial Inclusion Forum this September, "Digital can lower the cost of a range of transactions by as much as 90%, providing nearly universal access to innovative financial products and services”.
But, then why have these digital solutions not reached the world’s population who earn less than $2 a day and have the greatest need for efficient tools for managing the little money they have?
Some countries have pioneered this solution. Kenya’s M-PESA mobile money product has demonstrated its utility subscribing 75% adults, and similar services in Tanzania and Bangladesh are also showing great promise. However, the majority of digital finance providers have failed to emulate this success. The secret seems to be the ability to copycat selected best practices, while listening intently to local market demands.
The Helix Institute of Digital Finance, a training and information institution for digital financial services, will launch next month in Nairobi to address these and other issues through training courses, operational, and other technical support. As a partnership between the Gates Foundation, the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and MicroSave, Helix’s mission is to help digital finance practitioners increase efficiency, improve profits, and extend financial services to low-income and rural communities globally.
Helix’s first training course is on AGENT NETWORK MANAGEMENT, 18th-22nd November 2013 in Nairobi, Kenya. . Future training courses will cover ‘Risk & Fraud Management’, ‘Data Analytics’ and ‘Behavioral Science for Product Design’. For more details, please visit www.helix-institute.com