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Posts in category 'Financial'

18 September 2014

Why banks need to revamp their user experience

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The most interesting things happening in financial services are not happening in financial services, writes Rich Berkman, Associate Partner of IBM Interactive Experience, in UX Magazine. The most useful and powerful cross-channel, digital tools rolled out in recent years were not introduced by banks, he says, but by tech companies that understood how to use the Internet, data analytics, and mobile technologies to solve consumers’ day-to-day problems.

“Optimizing customer experience requires a holistic understanding of the user and a willingness to change. In some ways, this is where banks fall short. They already have more than enough information about their customers, they just need to figure out where the data is and how to use it effectively, which is easier said than done but also a necessity. The roll out of new mobile apps and other cross-channel experiences will exponentially increase data generation as more people use their phones, watches and more to interact with insurers, retailers, airlines, mortgage brokers, and so on. The better banks understand their customers—and can build models based on rich user research, analytics and evolved “personas”—the better they’ll be able to improve services to meet today and future customer demands.”

16 August 2014

How Wells Fargo learned to innovate around the customer

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Wells Fargo, the world’s most valuable bank, learned to innovate around the customer.

In 1999, Steve Ellis, who runs the bank’s wholesale services group, went to a conference where Scott McNealy of Sun Microsystems described a completely new era of digital banking that would unfold over the next decade. Nobody else seemed impressed, but Ellis was transfixed. For him, it was an epiphany.

Ellis realized that technology could be used to make the customer’s life easier, streamlining processes to enhance user experience, but he also knew how “customer is king” initiatives could easily devolve into useless platitudes. He wouldn’t find answers in boardroom discussions, but would need to look beyond banking for insights.

So Ellis immersed himself in Internet culture and eventually hit on ethnography techniques, which ha been commonly used in consumer products companies like Procter & Gamble, but were completely foreign to the banking industry. At first intrigued, then excited, he sent his team for training at nearby Stanford university to learn how to perform ethnography studies.

It seemed to be exactly the answer he was looking for. Instead of having executives brainstorm in the corporate offices, they would get out and observe customers as they navigated often confusing banking routines. As they uncovered problems and experienced frustrations first-hand, they could devise solutions.”

18 July 2014

Financial consumer protection: 5 lessons from behavioral research

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In its new Focus Note, Applying Behavioral Insights in Consumer Protection Policy, CGAP (a unit affiliated with the Worldbank) presents a summary of the growing evidence from consumer and behavioral research for consumer protection policy on four topics—disclosure and transparency; complaints handling and recourse; debt stress; and fair treatment.

These new research methods provide deeper understanding of the context of the financial lives of base-of-the-pyramid financial consumers, and how that should influence consumer protection policy. Perhaps just as importantly this new research agenda is leading to more empathy for the experiences and challenges poor customers face every day. Empathy, combined with better evidence and insights, can lead to highly motivated, increasingly effective, consumer protection policies and approaches.

The CGAP experiences researching this publication — and running field experiments ourselves — have led them to five key takeaways on the role of behavioral research in consumer protection policy:
1. The behavioral evidence base in consumer protection is growing quickly.
2. To be effective, regulations need to account for incentives and how they drive behavior.
3. Innovation in base-of-the-pyramid financial markets is changing consumer protection priorities.
4. Context can greatly influence financial behavior.
5. Start small, start cheap, but just get started!

9 April 2014

Ethnography in action at Wells Fargo

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Only a few years ago, the corporate view of retirement planning at San Francisco-based Wells Fargo Bank tended to focus on dollars and cents — how much an individual needed to invest, by when and for how many years,” write Julien Cayla, Robin Beers and Eric Arnould, authors of the article “Stories That Deliver Business Insights,” in the Winter 2014 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review. This segmentation did not account for context such as whether a person was inclined to think about long-term financial goals.

“As part of an ethnographic project commissioned by the bank, researchers had customers walk through a life timeline and recount activities they engaged in that related to retirement planning in each decade of their lives — their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond,” write the authors. The stories showed that baby boomers faced “a complex phenomenon of continually negotiated personal travails and marketplace dynamics.”

As a result of what they heard, the Wells Fargo team reworked how they think of customers. The bank developed a behavior-based segmentation that divided retirement approaches into three groups — Reactor, Pooler and Maximizer. [...]

As a result, the bank adjusted its marketing strategy and “designed its retirement planning site to include the various life stages used in the ethnographic research to convey the message ‘we meet you where you are’ and provide relevant, unintimidating guidance — as opposed to producing numbers-dense material filled with endless financial projections.”

30 March 2014

Behavioral approaches to product innovation at the Base of the Pyramid

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Alexandra Fiorillo, Principal of GRID Impact, writes that if we want to achieve full financial inclusion, we cannot simply offer more financial products and services to more people and hope they need, want, like, and use them. Instead, she writes, we should spend the necessary resources to ensure our products and services work for clients by doing two things:

1. Design products that meet the needs, desires, and preferences of our clients by collaborating with them on the design and delivery of these products.

2. Help our clients follow-through with the intentions and goals they have for their financial lives by focusing on taking action rather than just providing more information.

She continues:

“A new approach to product and service innovation, behavioral research and design, attempts to do just this. Drawing on insights from behavioral economics and principles from human-centered design, behavioral research and design attempts to uncover deep personal and contextual motivators and influencers to human behavior so we can better design products and services in a client-centered way. The goal of this method is not to focus on stated preferences and opinion or market research, but rather to develop deep empathy for human needs and desires while also making sense of observable behaviors – which may be contrary to people’s stated preferences.”

GRID Impact is a global research, innovation and design firm that specializes in human-centered approaches to policy, program, and product challenges. They use data and evidence to improve social impact in areas such as financial inclusion, global health, agriculture and education.

15 February 2014

The anthropology of globalization / The ethnography of finance

 

Keith Hart is Professor of Economic Anthropology at the London School of Economics and Political Science and Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Goldsmith’s, University of London. He has contributed to the concept of the informal economy to development studies and has published widely on economic anthropology.

The Memory Bank is Keith Hart’s digital archive and blog, which was created in 2000 to help publicize his book by the same name. The site includes a near final version of the book, short academic articles written and published in the last decade, and forays into journalism, stories, poetry, and film reviews.

In his latest essay, Money and finance: For an anthropology of globalization, Hart and co-author Horacio Ortiz (Centre de Sociologie de l’Innovation, Paris), review recent developments in the anthropology of money and finance, listing its achievements, shortcomings and prospects, referring back to the discipline’s founders a century ago. and focusing on money’s role in shaping global society and bringing world history into a more active dialogue with ethnography.

“If the new ethnography of finance is to throw more than superficial light on society, we must transcend the categories that shape media discussion of the “crisis” and try to understand our shared human predicament as a moment in the history of money. We need new methods if we wish to account for how money underpins social identities and relations of conflict, hierarchy and interdependence in the world we are making today. This review proposes some of the tools we need, drawing first on some classical authors who combined openness to ethnographic discovery with a global vision of economic history in their times and then on contemporary anthropological research.”

14 February 2014

An ethnography of the Brixton Pound

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Mario Campana (@mariocampana), a PhD student at City University London’s Cass Business School, researches the growing trend of local currencies – of which there are currently over 3000 around the world.

He recently presented at EPIC, where in a Pecha Kucha presentation he discussed his PhD research into the Brixton Pound, a neighborhood in South London.

Expanding upon the research presented in the rapid-fire format of his last presentation on this aspect of his research, this article expands upon his ethnographic inquiry into Brixton’s local currency, delving deep into the social forces driving the development of the currency and the surrounding community. Such forces include issues of gentrification, and the conflicting notions of community and belonging between previously settled and locally rooted immigrants from the Caribbean and the recent influx of young, wealthy, and upwardly-mobile settlers from other parts of the city.

12 February 2014

Data and design in innovative citizen experiences

 

The past decade has brought enormous and growing benefits to ordinary citizens through applications built on public data.

Any release of data offers advantages to experts, such as developers and journalists, but there is a crucial common factor in the most successful open data applications for non-experts: excellent design, writes Cyd Harrell, UX Evangelist at Code for America.

In fact, open data and citizen-centered design are natural partners, especially as the government 2.0 movement turns to improving service delivery and government interaction in tandem with transparency.

It’s nearly impossible to design innovative citizen experiences without data, but that data will not reach its full potential without careful choices about how to aggregate, present, and enable interaction with it.

“Design is a critical practice for enabling open data to reach its full transformative potential. Without citizens being able to interact with government data directly, we are unlikely to trigger a revolution in how services are provided. We all know how much we need that revolution, for reasons of cost, fairness, and human dignity.

Methods drawn from the user experience field are the easiest way to translate open data into a format that’s usable and accessible for the average (or non-average) citizen. The most successful and broadly used open data projects have always relied on design, whether or not people formally trained in design were part of the teams. Our task now is to bring our best design ideas into our shared movement and take advantage of everything the discipline has to offer. With design, we can give the public back its data in real use, as well as in name.”

15 January 2014

[Paper] Designing customer-centric branchless banking offerings

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Designing Customer-Centric Branchless Banking Offerings
Claudia McKay, Yanina Seltzer
The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP)
20 December 2013
pdf, iBook, Kindle

Branchless banking services have taken on a significant challenge: developing new channels through which to provide financial services to customers who have mostly used only cash before. Understanding the customer experience is critical, but focus groups and surveys may not be well-suited to understand customer needs in an environment with so many new and unknown dimensions. Intrigued by the success of design research in other industries, CGAP set out to explore how human-centered design (HCD) could be applied to branchless banking and its unique challenges.

Most financial service providers do not launch branchless banking services based on well-defined insights about low-income clients. Instead, they go to market with a one-size-fits-all mobile wallet that customers sometimes struggle to understand and use. Several customer-centric research and product development methodologies have been used in financial inclusion work for some time with mixed success. Because of its track record in other industries, CGAP has been exploring how HCD may help branchless banking providers understand their customers more deeply and develop offerings better suited to their customers’ needs. The HCD process is centered on learning directly from customers and delivering solutions that work in specific contexts. Through careful listening and observation of customers in their own environment, designers understand the needs of the people they are designing for. Rapid prototyping and real-world tests with customers are then used to quickly validate (or invalidate) early designs and iteratively improve the final solution.

This Brief describes initial experiences using HCD to help five branchless banking providers understand their customers better and design offerings to meet their needs. Partners include large banks in Brazil, Mexico, and Pakistan; mobile network operators (MNOs) in Ghana and Uganda; and several leading design firms. Three lessons from early experiences include the following:

  1. In each project, the process uncovered critical aspects of the customer experience beyond the product that needed to function correctly for customers to trust and use the product. HCD was a useful tool to understand and improve the entire customer experience.
  2. Although the HCD process helped develop innovative product concepts arising directly from customer needs, it did not solve implementation challenges, which can be just as difficult if not more so than concept generation.
  3. The HCD process helped bridge the gap between senior managers and customers. Many senior managers engaged deeply and directly with customers for the first time and are adjusting organizational processes to ensure customers continue to have a greater voice in the organization.
25 November 2013

BancoSmart video – Experientia’s ATM interface for UniCredit Bank

 

Experientia’s innovative ATM interface for UniCredit Bank has started to roll out across ATMs in Italy, and UniCredit has created a video to showcase some of the features.

Experientia’s interface design reinvents the ATM interface – making it easier to use, faster, and with more services, all offered through full touchscreen interaction. Not only is the ATM full touchscreen, it’s also personalised, featuring a home page tailored to users.

The ATM offers several original features, conceived especially for UniCredit Bank, based on Experientia’s research. The main innovations include:

  • Speedy withdrawal, with 3 predefined options on the Home Page based on the most frequent behaviours of the user, which the system learns over time. This cuts the time for common task completion by 30%.
  • Georeferenced payment service, which organises bill payment options and filters them based on what is available in the user’s location.
  • Adaptive interface, with a home page that offers personalised content based on the user’s banking profile.
  • Tone of voice, with the creation of a coherent language in all situations, which is more friendly and direct, and provides the correct support during operations.
  • Contextual support and feedback – Contextual messages and continuous feedback keep people informed during interaction, particularly in case of data entry errors or other problems, using a clear language and coherent visual support.
4 November 2013

Experientia presents “BancoSmart”, the innovative ATM interface designed for UniCredit Bank

 

The user-centred approach is moving into finance, as banks increasingly connect to their customers’ needs and wants. As part of this trend, global banking and financial services company UniCredit Bank collaborated with user experience consultancy Experientia to create a user-friendly, people-centred ATM – the BancoSmart.

A customer trials the new BancoSmart interface, with personalised home page.
Click on image to view slideshow

The user-centred approach is moving into finance, as banks increasingly connect to their customers’ needs and wants. As part of this trend, global banking and financial services company UniCredit Bank collaborated with user experience consultancy Experientia to create a user-friendly, people-centred ATM – the BancoSmart.

Experientia has reinvented the ATM interface for UniCredit – making it easier to use, faster, and with more services, all offered through full touchscreen interaction. The new ATM is already in use in selected locations, and will finish its roll out across Italy in 2014.

The first reactions to the BancoSmart interface have been extremely positive, with people commenting on the increased speed, legibility, appealing graphics, and the improvement in features and functions. The highly intuitive ATM interaction allows clients to easily navigate, locate and use functions, from simple features like cash withdrawals to more complicated functions like deposits, information retrieval, bill payments and mobile phone top-ups. The interface is visually attractive and easy to read, with large fonts and clear banking function categories.

Experientia carried out in-depth user experience research as a foundation for the information architecture and service design of the ATM.  Multiple cycles of design, prototyping and user acceptance testing ensured that the final interface is strongly based on people’s banking behaviours and exceeds their expectations and needs for ATM use.

Experientia’s design is a responsive solution that runs on various ATMs including legacy terminals of different providers with various screen sizes and tech specifications. Usability and technical tests were performed across this device range.

BancoSmart offers a full touchscreen interaction, thanks to the extended network of touchscreen ATMs available in Italy (over 6,000 UniCredit touch ATMs, equal to 85% of machines).

The ATM offers several original features, conceived especially for UniCredit Bank, based on the research findings. These include:

  • Speedy withdrawal, with 3 predefined options on the Home Page based on the most frequent behaviours of the user, which the system learns over time. This cuts the time for common task completion by 30%.
  • Georeferenced payment service, which organises bill payment options and filters them based on what is available in the user’s location.
  • Adaptive interface, with a home page that offers personalised content based on the user’s banking profile.
  • Tone of voice, with the creation of a coherent language in all situations, which is more friendly and direct, and provides the correct support during operations.
  • Contextual support and feedback Contextual messages and continuous feedback keep people informed during interaction, particularly in case of data entry errors or other problems, using a clear language and coherent visual support.

UniCredit SpA is an Italian global banking and financial services company. It has approximately 40 million customers and operates in 22 countries.

Experientia® is a global experience design consultancy that practices user research-based and people-centred design. They help companies and organisations conceive and innovate products, services and processes, through a qualitative understanding of people, their mental models and their behaviours.

Experientia won the 2011 Italian National Prize for Innovation in Services, for a low carbon service platform to be implemented in an eco-friendly residential area under construction in Helsinki, “using innovative methodologies devised in Italy.” They have conducted research and design projects in every continent, for industries ranging from mobile telecommunications to sustainability, from automotive to architecture, and much more. Their portfolio includes a range of financial products, aimed at bank and customer use, developed for some of the biggest banks in Italy and Europe.

Experientia’s client roster features Italian and international clients, such as Alcatel Lucent, ASUS, Banca Fideuram, Banca Carige, Condé Nast, CVS Pharmacy, Expedia, Fidelity International, Haier, Intel, Max Mara, Microsoft, Motorola, Mozilla Corporation, Nokia, Samsung Electronics, SAP, Sky,  Trenitalia, Toncelli, UniCredit Bank, United Nations and Vodafone.

 

Contact

Mark Vanderbeeken, Experientia srl, +39 011 812 9687,
[mark dot vanderbeeken at experientia dot com]

4 November 2013

Experientia rivoluziona la user experience degli ATM con “BancoSmart”, l’innovativa interfaccia degli ATM UniCredit

 

Le banche stanno cercando sempre più di entrare in sintonia con le esigenze ed i desideri dei propri clienti, innovando i propri prodotti e servizi secondo una approccio centrato sull’utente. Per dare concretezza a questo principio, UniCredit ha deciso di collaborare con Experientia con l’obiettivo di rinnovare a fondo la user experience del proprio canale ATM.

Un cliente prova la nuova interfaccia di BancoSmart e la home page personalizzata.
Click on image to view slideshow

Le banche stanno cercando sempre più di entrare in sintonia con le esigenze ed i desideri dei propri clienti, innovando i propri prodotti e servizi secondo una approccio centrato sull’utente. Per dare concretezza a questo principio, UniCredit ha deciso di collaborare con Experientia con l’obiettivo di rinnovare a fondo la user experience del proprio canale ATM.

Experientia ha di fatto reinventato l’interfaccia degli ATM UniCredit, rendendola più facile da utilizzare, più veloce e più ricca di servizi, il tutto attraverso un’interazione full touch.

Il nuovo ATM (denominato “BancoSmart”) è già attivo in agenzie selezionate e terminerà il roll out sul territorio italiano nel 2014.

Le prime reazioni al lancio della nuova interfaccia sono state molto positive, in modo particolar riferite alla maggiore velocità, alla grafica più moderna e di facile lettura, al fatto di far emergere con più chiarezza la ricchezza dei servizi offerti. L’interazione intuitiva del nuovo ATM consente ai clienti di navigare, individuare e utilizzare agevolmente tutte le funzioni, da quelle più semplici come il prelievo di contanti a quelle più complesse come il versamento di assegni.

Experientia, prima di procedere con la progettazione, ha condotto una ricerca dettagliata sulla user experience, i cui risultati sono stati alla base dell’architettura dell’informazione e del service design di BancoSmart. Molteplici cicli di design, prototipazione e test con utenti, hanno permesso all’interfaccia di rispondere ai bisogni espressi dalle persone.

BancoSmart funziona su sportelli di fornitori diversi, con schermi di varie dimensioni e specifiche tecniche dissimili fra loro. I test tecnici e i test di usabilità sono stati condotti sull’intera gamma di dispositivi in modo da mantenere inalterata la user experience.

BancoSmart offre un’interazione full touchscreen grazie alla più estesa rete di ATM touch presente in Italia (oltre 6.000 ATM touch UniCredit pari all’85% dell’intero parco posseduto) e presenta funzionalità, alcune del tutto inedite, concepite appositamente per UniCredit e ispirate ai finding emersi dalla ricerca. Tra le principali novità citiamo:

  • Prelievo veloce, con 3 importi immediatamente disponibili sin dalla home page e definiti sulla base dei comportamenti d’uso del cliente, riducendo del 30% il tempo impiegato per il prelievo.
  • Servizi di pagamento georeferenziati, con le opzioni di pagamento organizzate e filtrate per aree geografiche.
  • Interfaccia adattiva, con una home page che offre contenuti personalizzati, adattandosi al profilo dell’utente.
  • Tone of voice unico, con la creazione di un linguaggio coerente in tutte le situazioni, più amichevole, diretto e in grado di fornire il corretto supporto durante le operazioni.
  • Supporto e feedback contestuali fornendo all’utente un aiuto costante durante l’interazione, con messaggi e feedback contestuali, anche in caso di errori o problemi, utilizzando un linguaggio chiaro ed elementi grafici a supporto.

UniCredit S.p.A. è tra i primi gruppi di credito europei e mondiali. Conta oltre 40 milioni di clienti e opera in 22 paesi.

Experientia® è una società internazionale di experience design, il cui obiettivo è supportare società ed organizzazioni a concepire e innovare i propri prodotti, servizi e processi, grazie a una comprensione qualitativa delle persone, dei loro modelli cognitivi e dei loro comportamenti.

Experientia ha vinto il Premio Nazionale per l’Innovazione nei servizi, nel 2011, per un progetto di change behaviour destinato a ridurre le emissioni di carbonio da parte della comunità di residenti di un nuovo complesso residenziale eco sostenibile in costruzione nella città di Helsinki,”utilizzando metodologie innovative concepite in Italia”. Experientia ha condotto ricerca e progetti di design in ogni continente, per settori che spaziano dalle telecomunicazioni mobili alla sostenibilità, dall’automotive all’architettura dall’healthcare all’entertainment e molti altri.

In ambito Finance & Banking Experientia vanta numerose collaborazioni su tutti i principali temi di innovazione, con progetti di ricerca e design sviluppati per alcune fra le maggiori banche italiane ed europee.

La lista di clienti di Experientia annovera aziende e multinazionali italiane e straniere quali:

Alcatel Lucent, ASUS, Banca Fideuram, Banca Carige, Condé Nast, CVS Pharmacy, Expedia, Fidelity International, Haier, Intel, Max Mara, Microsoft, Motorola, Mozilla Corporation, le Nazioni Unite, Nokia, Samsung Electronics, SAP, Sky,  Trenitalia, Toncelli, UniCredit Bank e Vodafone.

 

Contatto

Mark Vanderbeeken, Experientia srl, +39 011 812 9687,
[mark dot vanderbeeken at experientia dot com]

23 August 2013

Empowering women with Mobile Money. Enough research to support further investments.

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Hannes Van Rensburg, founder and CEO of Fundamo, a VISA company based in South Africa, writes that there is enough research on empowering women with Mobile Money to support further investments.

The industry have made big gains getting to understand the need and the benefits to women through the work of the GSMA mWomen Programme with support from Visa. Research reports covering these aspects have been released conducted in five key countries Indonesia, Kenya, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea and Tanzania. It is worthwhile to have a look at some of the clips posted where women talk these studies (Video for Indonesia, Kenya, Pakistan and PNG). USAid also performed a study looking at the access that women have to mobile technology in Afghanistan. (Read here).

With Mobile technology women are empowered to entry into the financial mainstream much more easier. They now get access to life-enhancing services such as savings, payments, health-care, education, and entrepreneurship. However, the research shows that the gender gap in mobile phone ownership and usage still reduce the access that women have in many countries to these benefits. In order to achieve the full potential of the role mobile technology can play in women’s empowerment globally, it is critical that service providers understand what women need and design products that effectively reach this audience.

There are three key characteristics to women’s financial management that is of relevance in looking at mobile money: the difference in roles between men and women for managing money, the demands living in rural areas – compared to cities and the general lack of control women often have over their own finances. It is clear that the new capabilities made available through mobile money do and will have an positive impact in the lives of women in emerging markets.

Note also the excellent work by CGAP on the same topic.

20 August 2013

Exploring customer centricity in financial inclusion

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CGAP (a World Bank affiliated but independent policy and research center dedicated to advancing financial access for the world’s poor) has partnered with Janalakshmi Financial Services, one of India’s largest urban microfinance institutions to implement customer centricity in providing financial services to the urban poor. As a first step, the team commissioned Innovation Labs (consulting division of IMRB International, India) to build innovation capability within Janalakshmi and use new approaches to understand customers.

A Facebook journal follows the project over the next several months as it goes through the different phases of understanding customers, designing effective delivery and making the economics work. Here are the three initial posts:

Entry 1 – Creating a Customer-Centric Culture
The project with Janalakshmi Financial Services kicked off in Bangalore on July 1, 2013 with a workshop ‘Customer Centric Innovation’ conducted by Innovation Labs team for over 20 stakeholders at Janalakshmi from various functions including product marketing, strategy, IT and service centers.

Entry 2 – The Inside-Out View: How does a provider think about its clients?
A deep dive into Janalakshmi’s perspective on the customer and how this understanding affects their financial services offering.

Entry 3 – Ground Reality: Finance Management Skills of the Financially Underserved
The project team visited six households in Bangalore to gain a nuanced understanding of the lives of current and prospective customers. The purpose was to see how the customer-view of financial services matches up with that of Janalakshmi’s.

25 June 2013

The culture of borrowing and debt: an ethnographic approach

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What are people’s philosophy and attitudes toward loans and debt? And how financial marketers can respond to their basic emotional needs in the lending process?

Americans have a complicated relationship with debt, one that defies easy analysis. That’s why a pair of researchers from Filene, a credit union think tank, chose to study the subject using ethnographic models.

Filene’s report, “The Culture of Borrowing and Debt: An Ethnographic Approach,” set out to tackle two overarching issues: how consumers relate to borrowing and debt, and how financial marketers can respond to those basic borrowing needs. With that in mind, Filene used the following eight questions to guide its research project:

  1. What are people’s philosophy and attitudes toward money, borrowing, and debt?
  2. Does the average consumer understand the loan process, from considering whether to borrow, to obtaining a loan and paying it off?
  3. What is the language consumers use to discuss borrowing and loans?
  4. What are the influences and influencers around borrowing and taking loans?
  5. Who do consumers trust in the lending process, and what creates this trust?
  6. What forms of financial education work and what doesn’t? What can be done to improve consumer understanding of the lending process?
  7. How do members perceive the value of credit union membership?
  8. What is the customer lending experience? What works, what doesn’t, and what needs to be changed?
4 June 2013

Understanding people core strategic goal of World Bank financial inclusion group

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The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) is an independent policy and research center, affiliated with the World Bank, dedicated to advancing financial access for the world’s poor.

Their next five-year strategic direction lays out five priority themes, desired outcomes, and activities against each priority. The first one is “Understanding demand to effectively deliver for the poor”.

“To ensure that access to financial services improves the lives of poor, low-income and underserved people, financial inclusion must be client-centric. Client-centricity is about providing financial solutions based on a deep understanding of poor people’s needs, preferences, and behaviors. This will require a shift from a transactional approach (i.e., narrow focus on selling a product to a customer) to a relationship approach (i.e., broad focus on understanding the dynamic needs and behaviors of customers over their lifecycle).”

The strategic direction document provides quite some detail on how they intend to implement this user-centered approach.

CGAP is supported by over 30 development agencies and private foundations who share a common mission to alleviate poverty. The Group provides market intelligence, promotes standards, develops innovative solutions and offers advisory services to governments, microfinance providers, donors, and investors.

27 May 2013

Social networks of mobile money in Kenya

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Social networks of mobile money in Kenya
Sibel Kusimba, Harpieth Chaggar, Elizabeth Gross, & Gabriel Kunyu
Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion
University of California, Irvine

With mobile money technologies, people use mobile phones to send money to friends and relatives, connect to bank accounts, and make payments. This research examines the role of mobile money in Kenyans’ social and economic networks. Research reported was conducted in Bungoma and Trans-Nzoia Counties in Kenya, and among Kenyans living in Chicago, Illinois in the summer of 2012.

Although mobile money services are often described as a form of “banking,” most users in Western Kenya use mobile money as a social and economic tool through which they create relationships by sending money and airtime gifts. A wide range of mobile money uses includes social gifting, assisting friends and relatives, organizing savings groups, and contributing to ceremonies and rituals.

Even though mobile money was designed for person-to-person transfers, its practices are best understood as created by collectivities and groups. In savings groups, groups of siblings and other relatives, and communities who contribute to ceremonies, users “save with others” through the entrustment of value to kin and friends and create new groups and communities based around the “floating world” of mobile technology. Individuals balance their social and economic capital in order to create marginal gains and mediate the conflicts created between social obligations and personal economic betterment. Ties to and through mothers are prominent in social networks of mobile money flows. Matrilineal kinship ties are a means of sharing or circulating money among those marginalized from access to other resources and forms of value.

17 April 2013

CGAP CEO: Human-centered design for the Base of the Pyramid

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Tilman Ehrbeck, CEO of CGAP (the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, affiliated with the Worldbank), writes about how his organization has used human-centered design recently to generate demand-side insights and design innovative products that work better for low-income households.

“Half of all working-age adults globally lack access to formal financial services. And contrary to popular belief, these people are often entrepreneurs in the informal economy — by necessity, not by choice. Unbanked people don’t live financially simple lives; they have a strong need for income-generating opportunities, the ability to build assets, and tools to mitigate risks and smooth consumption in the face of emergency. By listening to what these people really need, we can dramatically fast-track innovation in financial services to reach more people with a greater range of products at affordable prices to help them improve their lives.”

12 April 2013

Bitcoin is just the poster currency for a growing movement of alternative tender

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Scott Smith of futures research lab Changeist writes in Quartz about the long history of alternative currencies, and criticizes Bitcoin because “they set too high a bar for the average person”:

“There have been various alternative currencies kicking around developed countries like Britain and the US for years, but the global recession has spurred increased interest in setting up small local systems of payment using money designed around local needs. These range from the gray hairs of local currency such as the Brixton Pound, set up five years ago in the South London neighborhood that gave it its name, to more recent entrants like Bavaria’s Chiemgauer, a currency that started in a school and has spread to wider use, and the Credito, used by the Damanhur eco-community in Northern Italy.”

See also his 2012 article: “The Future of Informal Economies“.

12 December 2012

Service design for innovative banking

 

Chris Brooker recently ran the Service Design for Innovative Banking workshop at the World Usability Day conference in Silesia, Poland, during which he explored how service design techniques can produce unique service ideas for the rapidly evolving banking sector.

Brooker has now summarized the content of the workshop and some innovative new financial services.