Moctar Bougma, Field Supervisor at SEMUS an NGO that Freedom from Hunger has been partnering with in Burkina, translating for the lady seated next to him, sharing her experience as member of a savings group that linked to a Airtel Money Mobile Wallet.
A DFS Knowledge Sharing Workshop
How can financial service providers best adopt digital finance solutions (DFS)? What are the potential pitfalls, opportunities and challenges of digital finance?
This October, Burkina Faso financial service providers (FSPs), NGOs working with informal savings groups, an MNO, Fintechs and regulators met to share their experiences and answer these questions.
Co-sponsored by UNCDF/MicroLead and Freedom from Hunger, along with its partner-FSPs , Le Réseau des Caisses Populaires du Burkina (RCPB) and la Société pour la Petite Entreprise (SOFIPE), the workshop aimed to create a sector-level dialog.
The workshop was organized into three main segments. First, a panel to discuss infrastructure and financial service supply issues. Second, a panel to discuss issues pertaining to demand for DFS. And finally, a discussion of the way forward and key actions to take digital finance to the “next level” in Burkina Faso.
Two key lessons emerged from the workshop proceedings – one tactical, one strategic.
From a tactical perspective, relying on technology to provide financial education to savings groups is instrumental in reducing FSP costs to serve “hard to reach segments”. So Freedom from Hunger’s assisted its FSP partners in Burkina Faso to digitize their financial education modules into videos viewable on a mobile phone in local language. However, not everyone in the savings groups has mobile phones, forcing group members to pass the phone around to view the videos in small groups. Based on an experiment that revealed SG members pay more attention to audio than the image, Freedom from Hunger is now considering going slightly more “low tech” and shifting the lessons to audio only. This way, everyone in the group can listen to the lesson at once.
From a more strategic perspective, while some workshop participants are well-versed in digital finance, the majority of participants are still struggling with DFS, particularly regarding how to incorporate technology into financial services offerings, financial education, and branchless banking. “A big lesson learned,” says Christian Loupeda of Freedom from Hunger, “is the market is ready for us to do more, to piggyback and to build on what we’re doing with MicroLead, to open up to other actors and help them engage in the digital finance adventure.”
The DFS market may well be poised for growth in Burkina Faso. Local Fintechs and private sector actors are already involved in developing apps and programs for DFS, and they are marketing their services to FSPs.
At the end of the workshop, participants agreed to create a DFS working group to continue to discuss the local challenges, how to overcome them, and how to make DFS a reality in Burkina Faso. Freedom From Hunger is spearheading the group’s creation and is in the process of developing its structure.
“It was a powerful meeting,” said Christian, “demonstrating that the market is ready for absorbing DFS. FSPs understand that the digital finance archetype is not easy, but if they don’t go digital, it will grow more and more difficult to contain costs.”
View the French-language presentation HERE.
MicroLead is a UNCDF-managed global initiative challenging regulated FSPs to develop and roll-out deposit services which respond to the rural vacuum of services. With the generous support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The MasterCard Foundation and the LIFT Fund in Myanmar, MicroLead works with a variety of FSPs and technical service providers to reach rural markets, particularly women, with demand-driven, responsibly priced products offered via alternative delivery channels such as rural agents, mobile phones, roving agents, point of sales devices and group linkages. This is combined with financial education, so customers not only have access but can effectively use quality services.
Follow us on Twitter @UNCDFMicroLead. And for more information on adopting digital finance, check out our DFS Toolkits HERE.
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