The Goal: the “value add” question

This post is written by Debbie Watkins, SBI Resident Adviser for the bKash project in Bangladesh.

“Every network evolves around delivering value to the core constituents who are currently using the network.  Networks also evolve around a business and revenue model, as a network matures value evolves out from the process of coordinating transactions to managing interactions.” (HBR Where Value Lives, Jan 2001)

Photo credit: Small Business Planned

The first step in achieving The Goal is being clear about your business model (i.e. what you’re going to charge, how and when), your Unique Selling Point and the value proposition to your customers. For many ADC implementations, the customers are likely to be low income people – notoriously difficult to sell to, as money is of course tight and there are many other demands on their hard earned cash. Somewhere along the line you’ve recognised the opportunity for an ADC implementation – perhaps as a new channel for your existing financial institution, perhaps as a startup business, perhaps as a diversification for your mobile network. You will also (hopefully by now!) have a general idea of what you’re expecting this deployment to achieve – be it transaction-based revenue, increased stickiness of your existing clients/reduction of churn, or new clients that you can cross-sell your other products to (and are able to express the benefit of ADC to your business in financial terms -whether tangible or intangible). And your model will likely include agents as cash-in cash-out points. All in all, an evolution of an existing network.

But here’s one thing to think about: If a bank offers ADC, it’s not actually the banking that’s evolving. If an MNO offers mobile money, it’s not actually the mobile service that’s evolving. It’s the financial services that are available to the people you’re trying to sell to. They are the core constituents. The network that’s evolving is the channel they currently use. It must be remembered that whatever you’re offering is not “new” to them; it’s an alternative to what they’re using already. You are not going to single-handedly invent money transfer – your target market has been doing it ever since they discovered that more work was available in urban areas i.e. a very, very long time. Informal, illegal, whatever – it’s there, it’s working, and you have to improve on it.

Next in this series: the three golden rules of making it work – research, research and research.


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