In the field exploring DFS user journeys
  • February 26, 2015

Yesterday was THE day: we met with DFS agents and clients. After a briefing on customer journeys that included visualizing the headaches agents and clients may face, we set out at 10 a.m. Leaving the city with our 14 groups, dispatched to seven different villages, was the easy part of the trip in jammed Kampala; the return planned between 4 and 5 p.m. proved to be more troublesome. Some groups did not make it till 8 p.m. but still had the energy to wrap up their exercise!

While on the bus, participants studied and rehearsed their roles for the interviews in groups of 8 to 10. From translator, to facilitator, to persona builder, to visualizer, to headache identifier and note taker—we covered it all. With all these roles shared across each group, we ensured we’d capture what clients and agents undergo in detail with words and drawings. The objective was to discover how clients and agents move from the first impression or awareness of services to the courting phase and then the marriage phase.

Walking and talking through these 14 journeys proved to be an eye opener for many participants. They saw and heard issues they hadn’t considered before. In our group, we interviewed four different clients who helped us map a persona named Moses, a married farmer with two kids.

During the interviews, the clients brought Moses to life through a story of his steps on a DFS journey: from hearing about the service to deciding to apply for it to actually registering (with a lot of effort) and finally to using it. After going back and forth to the agent, cutting out his wedding picture to provide the required passport photo and showing his ID that his local chairman provided, Moses finally registered. But, his journey only just started. He had to wait about two weeks to get his account activated. Once on board, Moses had headache after headache, hurdle after hurdle. It made actually using the service hard and spoiled his initial excitement about finding a place to keep his money safe from envy and theft.

  • Literacy is a big headache for Moses. He can’t read the forms or the SMS he gets, not to mention the terms and conditions he agrees to.
  • Network issues make withdrawals or deposits nearly impossible. After a 15-kilometre walk or bike ride, it can be really upsetting.
  • Mistyping an account number means transferring money to the wrong person. The process to get your money back is long—very long—and tiresome.
  • Mistyping a PIN means getting the phone blocked. Getting a new PIN activated takes yet again far too long and means many more trips to the agent to follow up on the issue.

All in all, Moses’ journey is not an easy one. It made our participants, from mobile network operators, financial service providers and central banks, think about solutions to make the registration smoother and the usage of services a more pleasant experience. Improving Moses’ journey will help increase uptake and usage of mobile money services in Uganda where only a third of the adult population use DFS. Mobile money usage, along with other efforts, will support financial inclusion in rural areas.

Stay tuned to hear more about the user journeys we built and the ingredients to go rural that we will continue exploring.