First Published by New Vision.
Digital financial services have become the leading driver of financial inclusion for the unbanked in many developing countries.
In Uganda, the 2018 FINSCOPE report indicated a 78% surge in the country’s financial inclusion rate majorly supported by mobile money services.
Thus represent 14.4 million Ugandans. The report indicated that 23% of Ugandans save money on the mobile money platform, compared to only 11% who save with commercial banks.
Despite their contribution, however, digital financial experts say end users should be involved from the start of developing digital financial services to witness faster and meaningful financial inclusion.
Speaking during the annual Digital Impact Awards Africa (DIAA) in Kampala recently, the ModusBox vice-president, Warren Carew, said involving the target audiences at an early stage ensures introduction of the right digital financial products that meet people’s needs. This, he said, ensures quicker adoption.
“You may have a brilliant product in your vision but if it is not meeting the consumer need, there will be a challenge for adoption,” Carew, who also represented the Gates Foundation said.
He added: “Let us try to understand what people at the bottom need. They need reliable and accessible services; they need education and we must address that. We need to start simple. Financial inclusion starts with access to everyone. We need to be able to use financial systems to do anything. Financial inclusion must include everyone at every level — creation, access and usage,” he said.
The awards seek to recognise and reward individuals and organisations across Africa that are spearheading the use of digital tools to enhance financial and digital inclusion, for continental economic transformation.
They were organised by HiPipo in partnership with the Gates Foundation, ModusBox and CrossLake Tech under the theme Include Everyone.
The HiPipo chief executive officer, Innocent Kawooya, said an economy that includes everyone benefits all. As such, the programme sensitises operators and service providers to bring financial services to the poor through the use of innovative business models and mobile technology,” Kawooya added.
Investment ambassador, Maggie Kigozi urged African central banks to be agile and adapt to the changing financial services sector to ensure financial soundness and stability.
“The Central Bank may still be nervous about these new areas that they may not be able to regulate digital financial services easily but they are the ones to guide us because we trust them. It is important that they take a lead on this and update us on what is happening and how we benefit from these innovations,” she said.
On the continental level, MTN was crowned the Africa Best Digital Enabler (internet, devices) of the year while the Africa Best Mobile App (FinTech and telecom) went to Standard Chartered Mobile.
The Africa Best FinTech Innovator award went to Craft Silicon (financial solution provider in banking software virtual banking, mobile lending, e-voucher and agency banking), while the gold award for Africa Best Digital Financial Services Platform went to Ericsson and silver to Comviva.
At the local level, MTN MoKash won the best saving, lending/credit product award while Standard Chartered won best digital banking.
Other winners were MTN MoMopay (best mobile payments- Gold) Beyonic (mobile payments — silver), United Bank of Africa (cards payments) Pride Microfinance (community banking), Airtel (digital customer experiencefinancial Services — Gold and Centenary Bank (community banking), Airtel (digital customer experience-financial Services silver).
National Water and Sewerage Corporation (best digital customer experience — utilities and government services), Centenary (social media – financial Services) Bell Lager (social media -consumer goods – gold), Movit (social media -consumer goods silver), Stanbic Blue Weekends (digital powered campaign – Stanbic Blue Weekends and Umeme and NWSC for best e-service, gold and silver, respectively.
Stanbic bank was crowned the digital brand of the year.
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