This post is written by Sam Grant, an SBI consultant based in Brisbane, Australia
- Original Drawing by Sam Grant
Low Battery, beep beep beep, power down. It has happened to all of us, out and about during our busy daily lives, conversing with friends or business colleagues, when all of a sudden our mobile phone battery dies, and with it our ability to receive the latest tweet, SMS or Facebook status update. Now imagine that your cell phone is also your wallet and when it turns off so does your access to cash.
One of the benefits of a traditional wallet is that it will never display a “low battery” message and does not require an electrical outlet. A vital, if somewhat peripheral input in every alternative delivery channel (ADC) system is electricity. Without reliable, affordable access to electricity the advantages offered through mobile enabled financial services is severely restrained. If the path to improving access to financial services is tied to portable electronic devices then this path must also encompass issues surrounding access to energy. Cell phone ownership has permeated most urban environments around the world but growth in rural areas is constrained by network coverage and access to energy. In rural areas where population density is low, villagers often must walk great distances to charge their mobile phones. Many of these cell phone users only turn on their phones when a specific need arises. In order to tap into the expansive amount of activity and innovation taking place in the “banking beyond branches” ecosystem, rural populations and financial service providers must find a way to overcome the charging challenge.
This post is written by Debbie Watkins, SBI Resident Adviser for the bKash project in Bangladesh. This is part of her ongoing series on “The Goal.”
Many organisations will use the services of an expert market research company when they need to find out “what people want” (and this is generally a better way than sending out in-house staff who think your proposed product is wonderful – refer to my previous article). The organisation tends to give a vague description of some questions they would like to be asked, then hands over a lot of money and waits for the results. The results, when they come back, will be represented in pie charts, bar charts and scatter diagrams in a range of colours. The organisation listens to the presentation and then goes ahead with what they were planning to do in the first place.
Photo credit: Audience Response Info
Sound familiar? And if so, how do you avoid it and get useful data that enables you to make informed decisions?
Rule number 1: Be totally, totally clear on what the big questions are you want answering. These could be something like: “what price should we charge our client?”; “where should we put our first 5/20/100 agents?”; “which products should we be offering and to whom?” Continue reading
This post is written by Ryan Falvey, an SBI Consultant
We’ve all read the stories about how telecom-based mobile money services – such as M-PESA – are allowing new
Photo credit: WhyGo Business
players to shake up financial services in developing countries, besting banks and providing a superior alternative to cash. While there is certainly some truth to this, there is also a lot of hype. After all, with the exception of M-PESA, no telecom based offering has come close to achieving either the scale or the penetration of Safaricom’s mobile offering. A question that many in the space have been asking is why. I propose that part of the reason may have to do with the fact that it isn’t mobile money that people want; it’s efficient, useful and inexpensive financial services. Unfortunately, most MNO solutions are built on extremely expensive, awkward and limiting technologies: SMS and USSD.
SMS might be both the world’s most expensive way to send data and one of the least efficient. An SMS costs, on average about $0.10 per message, yet it only allows an individual to send 140 bits of data. USSD can transmit a bit more data and the costs are, usually, a bit lower. However, both technologies are absurdly expensive when compared to the cost data plans. In most countries, these are between $10-$50 for 2GB of data. 2 GB of data on SMS at 10 cents a message would cost a user $3,072,000. Even if USSD cost 1/10 of the price of SMS (which it doesn’t usually) it’s clear that both technologies are completely inappropriate for sending and receiving data. They’re the equivalent of the compact disc: an expensive, awkward, and, eventually, obsolete technology for transmitting and storing data. As such, mobile money platforms built on SMS and USSD are expensive, awkward and limiting. Continue reading
Posted in Practitioner Perspectives, SBI Posts
Tagged data, ecosystem, financial inclusion, financial services, Internet banking, M-PESA, mobile banking, sms, unbanked, ussd
This post is written by Shital Shah, SBI Associate Consultant.
Photo credit: KeralaEvents
In our data driven world, how important is an integrated analytical framework for mobile financial services? During a recent meeting with a pair of business school professors, we sat down to dissect an approach to framing business analytics in SBI’s mobile banking initiatives. Business analytics, or data collection and analysis in general, hold several useful purposes:
- A tool for business decision making
- Assessing wider impact of service
- Understanding the added ‘value’ for customers and agents
The business analysis will help companies navigate potential obstacles better – with real time data outputs and consolidated reports tracking tends and patterns, management will be understand what is happening with key areas of their operations. However, the analysis can also have a broader purpose. Many of these mobile money ventures are the first of their kind in these markets, which presents a unique opportunity to understand the role of financial institutions in building large scale transaction platforms. Continue reading