Designing Customer Centric Financial Products for the Poor Advancing digital financial services in Nepal
  • December 12, 2014

Mr. Maha Prasad Adhikari, the Deputy Governor of Nepal Rastra Bank, inaugurated the workshop on customer centric product design organized by the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) under its Mobile Money for the Poor (MM4P) programme, in partnership with the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB).

The workshop gave the opportunity to launch three research reports related to demand of financial services among low income households in Nepal. The first report on demand was supported by additional research around customer journey for availing financial services. The second and the third report focus on agents. The reports assess the agent banking channels deployed by banks (post release of NRB regulations on electronic banking) and analyze the value chain of the various channels that could be deployed for financial services among low income communities.

Delivering the opening remarks Mr Maha Prasad Adhikari, Deputy Governor NRB stressed the importance of cooperation and coordination among stakeholders to promote financial inclusion in the country. He marked the importance of creating consumer centric products and the need for financial institutions to take a bottom-up approach while creating new product and services. He mentioned that NRB would be supportive of all initiatives provided that these are properly thought off and aligned with a long term vision of creating a robust and inclusive financial system.

Mr Adhikari noted that “it is essential for Nepal’s overall progress that we provide a wide access to financial services and agent banking through use of technology” but he also stressed that a half-hearted attempt in this direction will not bear any fruit. “The banks will need to invest long term in setting up the channels and products. They will need to move beyond the traditional approach of doing banking if they want to impact financial access”

While addressing the participants, Mr. Tillman Bruett of UNCDF Brussels, in his welcome remarks reiterated the commitment of UNCDF to work closely with NRB and providers to make DFS successful in Nepal. He outlined the strategy of UNCDF–MM4P and highlighted the ways in which various institutions could work with UNCDF – MM4P.

Mr Bruett announced through the workshop, that UNCDF - MM4P in Nepal is getting into partnership with USAID and Metlife Foundation, to further strengthen the creation of DFS eco-system in Nepal. He mentioned that the current phase of the progarmme is supported by UN, AusAid, Sida and Danida in Nepal. The workshop saw a large gathering of participants, with C-level executives and senior management of Nepal’s new and future DFS sector. Participants included delegates from NRB, public and private sector banks, Nepal Telecommunication Authority, Industry bodies, development partners, technology service providers and agent network.

The objective of the workshop was to create excitement and awareness among financial institutions on the need to create product offerings aligned to the needs of the consumers. Through the workshop the participants were challenged with the fact that creation of products needs to be aligned with proper service delivery highlighted through a customer journey story. The journey story avail the financial services and the headaches that users face en-route. A team from 17 Triggers and MicroSave, shared the insights with the participants.

The first day workshop will be followed by a three day engagement with financial institutions in Nepal, where the team from 17 Triggers and MicroSave will work with a group of institutions to generate new products and actionable ideas for low income communities and rural areas of Nepal.

The workshop was closed with the address of Mr Manmohan Shrestha, Executive Director of Nepal Rastra Bank. He highlighted the importance of taking the financial inclusion agenda forward into remote locations. In Mr. Shrestha closing remarks, he stated that “innovation in agent models can help Nepal reach its financial inclusion goals, and there is still a need to focus on developing new products, improve agent banking and invest long term in DFS.“