Developing Client Centric Branchless And Mobile Financial Services In Laos

Dr. Akhom Praseuth, Deputy Director Financial Inclusion and Supervision Department at Bank of Lao PDR, inaugurated on Thursday, May 15, a one day workshop organized by Making Access to Finance More Inclusive for Poor People (MAFIPP) and the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) under its Mobile Money for the Poor (MM4P) programme.

The workshop titled “Developing Client Centric Branchless And Mobile Financial Services In Laos” was attended by more than 40 senior officers of the Bank of Lao, banks, mobile and telecommunication companies, retail networks, financial industry associations and donors organizations.

The objective of the workshop was to facilitate organizations and institutions design appropriate financial product and services based on digital technology for underserved and unserved customers. The adoption of these new digital services will much depend on the understanding of customer’s needs and demands. MAFIPP conducted a market research in February-March, 2014 to shed light on financial behavior of Lao people and their expectations from branchless and mobile financial services. The research concludes by recommending a series of products that could be developed and deployed in Laos to service low income people.

In his inaugural speech, Dr. Akhom said that deepening and widening the reach of financial services to every eligible citizen and to ensure they have access to a range of appropriate financial products and services, is one of the major agenda of the Government of Laos. Dr. Akhom mentioned that the Bank of Laos is committed to the agenda of financial inclusion by way of enabling regulations and policy directives to support various stakeholders in the rollout of branchless and mobile financial services.

He was delighted with the outcomes of the workshop and mentioned the Bank of Lao is currently working on principles to allow banks and non-banks to launch branchless and mobile money pilots. Dr. Akhom also released a briefing note – “Developing Our Branchless Banking Strategy” which discusses key steps that service providers should consider while finalizing their strategy and subsequent test and rollout of services in Laos.

During the workshop, the participants focused their discussions on customer segments; product features and positioning; as well as appropriate fees to encourage consumer adoption. The workshop focused on developing a future road-map to assist the sector to pave the way forward. Through MM4P and MAFIPP programmes in Laos, UNCDF is conducting a series of workshops and consultations with providers for developing strategies for branchless banking and mobile financial services. MAFIPP is also working closely with the Bank of Laos on recommending regulations for branchless and mobile financial services in Laos.