Zambia

Zambia

Easing Access to Liquidity for Mobile Money Agents

Zambia

Easing Access to Liquidity for Mobile Money Agents

December 11 , 2017

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FINCA: Easing Access to Liquidity for Mobile Money Agents

Lusaka, ZAMBIA - 

Although there is ample demand for mobile money services across Zambia, one of the key contributors to slow uptake of these services among customers is the challenge of liquidity management that agents have continuously faced. It leads to situations where agents ‘bounce’ customers when they do not have enough float to handle the customers’ requests to deposit or withdraw money. Bouncing of customers in turn leads to low trust by customers, less traffic of customers, lower commissions for agents and slower business growth for agents.

FINCA Zambia, with the support of the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), decided to explore the current challenges confronting agents and whether FINCA could provide a solution to them. To properly understand the contexts in which mobile money agents (specifically those of Airtel Money and MTN Mobile Money) work, the FINCA research team met with 331 agents (109 urban, 93 peri-urban and 129 rural agents) in 16 locations across 8 of 10 provinces in Zambia between May and June 2017 to understand their varied processes, constraints and financial lives. In a previous post, the UNCDF programme Mobile Money for the Poor presented profiles of some of the agents encountered during the study.

Testing agents’ appetite for a credit line

FINCA is currently building ‘push-pull’ functionality for its customers to link their accounts to their Airtel Money or MTN Mobile Money wallets. This push-pull functionality would allow movement of money between the mobile money agents’ accounts to increase capacity to serve clients with adequate float. The research FINCA completed with agents would help the organization define how to adapt its services so that agents could access instant float or capital from an overdraft/lending facility as well as what interest rate would be acceptable to agents.

Reception from agents

During the research, 86% of agents interviewed indicated a willingness to take up the proposed liquidity management solution, once it is available on the market. Concerns that would affect the development and marketing of the proposed solution were also uncovered. Read more to find out what the research revealed.

DOWNLOAD THE CASE STUDY HERE

For more information, please contact
Uloma Ogba
KM Consultant, Zambia
Additional Information
Uloma Ogba
KM Consultant, Zambia

FINCA: Easing Access to Liquidity for Mobile Money Agents

Zambia

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 09:33 -- anna.ferracuti

FINCA Zambia, with the support of UNCDF, decided to explore the current challenges confronting agents and whether FINCA could provide a solution to them. FINCA is currently building ‘push-pull’ functionality for its customers to link their accounts to their Airtel Money or MTN Mobile Money wallets. 

State of the Digital Financial Services Market in Zambia, 2016

Zambia

Fri, 11/17/2017 - 17:11 -- anna.ferracuti

Results from the UNCDF-MM4P Annual Provider Survey​.

The 2016 State of the Digital Financial Services Market in Zambia provides key insights into the state of the Zambian DFS market, drawing on data collected through the 2016 UNCDF-MM4P Annual Provider Survey (APS), and complemented by data from other sources such as GSMA and the Agent Network Accelerator Survey conducted by The Helix Institute of Digital Finance.

Celebrating Excellence and Innovation in Digital Finance in Zambia

Zambia

Celebrating Excellence and Innovation in Digital Finance in Zambia

United Nations Capital Development Fund to host premier Digital Chikwama Awards for financial service providers in Zambia
November 15 , 2017
Lusaka, ZAMBIA - 

The United Nations Capital Development Fund will be hosting the premier digital financial services (DFS) awards event in Zambia. The Digital Chikwama Awards will be given to organizations and individuals from the private sector who have contributed significantly to advancing digital financial inclusion for the benefit of all Zambians.

“Chikwama” is the Nyanja word for “wallet” and a key focus area for UNCDF has been to facilitate the introduction of new financial products that leverage digital wallets that allow customers to have access to services that often seem too far out of reach, like a safe place to save, or access to microcredit, solar power, or microinsurance. The keynote address at the awards event will be given by Dr. Denny Kalyalya the Governor of the Bank of Zambia. 

Zambia has bred an inspiring set of stakeholders in the Digital Finance Ecosystem – from the public sector to the private sector and beyond. UNCDF’s observation has been that these inspiring actors have helped more Zambians access financial services at a rapid clip, and made large strides in the last few years to correct what the world used to call the Zambian DFS market – ‘a sub-scale trap’.

It is critical to recognize and reward the outstanding contributions that have been made by digital financial services providers in this market. We hope this recognition will inspire others to take action and work towards moving Zambia past the tipping point in leveraging these transformative services to generate benefits that will meet the needs, wants and aspirations of Zambian customers. This vision continues to be the ‘north star’ of UNCDF-MM4P in all that this programme does.”

Nandini Harihareswara, Regional Technical Specialist, UNCDF

Context

Every year, the Bank of Zambia and other key stakeholders in the financial inclusion space in Zambia host the Financial Literacy Awards. This awards ceremony is meant to recognize financial institutions and individuals that have contributed significantly to increased financial literacy among Zambian adults. The result is more Zambians are becoming financially literate and taking a keener interest in learning how to manage their financial lives. Every year, the financial institutions are motivated to perform even better than they did in the previous year.

Inspired by this idea, UNCDF is hosting an awards ceremony to recognize and reward excellence and innovation in the digital finance space. The award categories, which will be announced during the event, have been carefully crafted by UNCDF to reflect what is going on in the market. A panel of independent digital finance experts were convened to choose the finalists in each category.

More messages

The event will feature a keynote address by the Governor of the Bank of Zambia reflecting on the future of digital financial services in Zambia. UNCDF’s report on the state of the Zambian digital financial services market will also be released at the event. The report contains the facts and figures showing the growth trends in the market in 2016. Following the presentation of the awards, there will be a networking session to allow participants to engage with and learn from each other. Through this event, UNCDF hopes to see increased interest and activity on the part of the providers and other stakeholders to advance digital finance in Zambia in the coming years.

About/ Further Info

Mobile Money for the Poor (MM4P) is a programme launched by UNCDF in partnership with the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida), the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The MasterCard Foundation. MM4P provides support to digital financial services (DFS) in a select group of least developed countries (LDCs) to demonstrate how the correct mix of financial, technical and policy support can build a robust DFS ecosystem that reaches low income people in LDCs. 

For more information, please contact
Uloma Ogba
KM Consultant, Zambia
Nandini Harihareswara
Additional Information
Uloma Ogba
KM Consultant, Zambia

Human-Centered Design Learnings from Zambia

Zambia

Tue, 11/07/2017 - 14:54 -- anna.ferracuti
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Description: 

Teaming up with design firm, 17 Triggers, UNCDF MM4P and Airtel Money Zambia adopted a human centered design (HCD) approach to investigate the perspectives of both customers and agents on Airtel’s mobile money service and solve liquidity issues. This video follows Airtel’s journey to co-create solutions with their mobile money agents, to help them improve their float management and serve customers better. As a result of this co-creation journey two concepts were selected and are now ready to scale.

 

The state of the digital financial services (DFS) industry in Zambia

Zambia

The state of the digital financial services (DFS) industry in Zambia

By Nandini Harihareswara, UNCDF
September 06 , 2017
Lusaka, ZAMBIA - 

I have had the privilege of working with UNCDF for almost two years as the Regional Technical Specialist for one of its seminal programmes, MM4P. In Zambia, UNCDF MM4P has launched a programme that is focused on accelerating the uptake and usage of digital financial services (DFS). The objective is to have 35% of the adult Zambian population actively using digital finance by the end of 2019.

We know, after decades of work in development – that when you are trying to make deep, lasting change – you can’t support one part of the ecosystem – you have to support the larger ecosystem. When it comes to DFS market development, MM4P uses an ecosystem approach that simultaneously addresses issues at the levels of Customers, Providers, Distribution, High Volume, Policy & Regulation and Infrastructure to improve market conditions and facilitate shifts. We call this “the honeycomb approach” (as you can see below). 

When I first came to this market, the narrative I heard was that “Zambia is stuck in a sub-scale trap”. From that daunting start, I can proudly say that we are now more at a tipping point. In 2014, only 2% of the adult Zambian population were active registered users of DFS[i] and there were a total of 1,656 active agents in the country. As of 2016, our data shows that 18% of the adult Zambian population are active registered DFS users and there are a total of 12,307 active agents.

Zambia- Small but mighty

When it comes to DFS, what many do not realize is that Zambia was the earliest adopter of DFS in Africa. Way before Safaricom launched M-Pesa in Kenya in 2006, Celpay had launched Zap in Zambia in 2002. Fast forward to 14 years later and the Zambian DFS market is competitive and diverse. We have three mobile network operators – Airtel, MTN and Zamtel who are offering mobile money services. We have several banks/MFIs – Ecobank, FINCA, FNB, Investrust and Zanaco that offer agency banking and popular mobile applications. We also have several third party operators – like 543 Konse Konse, Kazang and Zoona. For a market of 16 million people and approximately 9 million adults, we’ve got loads of innovation and competition. Zambian may be small, but it is mighty when it comes to DFS. And what we are learning is that not only does Zambia have a lot to learn from its peers in Africa and elsewhere, but the world has a lot to learn from Zambia.

Pollyanna & Discovery

While we are driven by the optimism of our colleagues in this work, we don’t take a “Pollyanna” approach. We recognize the great challenges that the DFS Ecosystem faces – especially the low population density of 27 people per square kilometer. But for each challenge that the market faces, we have also made fascinating discoveries on how the market is testing ways to address these challenges.

  • While meaningful awareness remains one of the biggest challenges to the uptake of DFS… Providers and Ecosystem players are testing cheaper, more effective ways of customer education (e.g., IVR).
  • While low profitability and liquidity of agent networks continues to be a challenge… There will soon be new financial products to improve liquidity management for agents across Zambia.
  • While there is still a low level of demand to digitize bulk payments both in the one-to-many and many-to-one space… To our surprise, the Government Payments Diagnosis has spurred bulk payments to be prioritized in 2 top DFS providers in Zambia.
  • While there are regulatory gaps and uneven levels of knowledge regarding DFS by BoZ and other relevant regulators… Regulators are open to dialogue, and responsive to private sector needs, especially when voiced collectively.

Looking to the future: What are our big bets?

As we look to our past, what we are seeing across the globe and the successes and challenges in this market, we’ve identified four “big bets” that we think will be game changers.

Partnerships. The coolest products you are starting to see in the market are all because of partnerships – the Kazang partnership with Azuri Solar, MTN Kongola credit product, the Zoona Sunga Wallet, the upcoming FINCA agent liquidity product. The more the market can figure out how to leverage each other strengths and weaknesses, the better the products that will be coming out of the system that meet the needs of Zambians.

Taking a Silcon Valley, Human Centered Design approach to testing. We are seeing this transform Skeptics to Believers, and more importantly helping DFS providers like Airtel and Zoona meet KPIs in customer uptake and usage!

A Wallet for What? We want to help the DFS Ecosystem crack the nut on providing sustainable, affordable services to those underserved -- especially women and those in rural areas. Through digital financial services, we want to see all Zambians have improved access to their basic needs, including power, water, education and quality agricultural inputs- all at an affordable cost.

DFS can drive Connectivity in rural areas. What we are finding from our colleagues in MM4P Uganda is that introducing digital financial services to underserved areas can spur increased usage of other mobile-enabled services, driving a completely different business case for Mobile Network Operators than ever considered. Putting up a cell phone tower in areas that previously were brushed off as “never never land” can change the game.

UNCDF MM4P’s vision for Zambia is to put the needs, wants and aspirations of Zambians at the center of DFS product design, agent liquidity and the policy and regulatory environment. What do you think our Zambians depicted below are thinking about? How can we help them achieve their aspirations?

This blog was originally written for ICTworks and published on September 6, 2017.

Nandini is a Regional Technical Specialist, responsible for the implementation of the United Nations Capital Development Fund Mobile Money for the Poor (MM4P) Digital Finance country strategy in Zambia. Partnering with Financial Sector Deepening Zambia (FSDZ), she is leading a team focused on increasing financial inclusion through digital finance. She is also leading MM4P’s efforts in Malawi.


[i] Based on Bank of Zambia data

 

For more information, please contact
Nandini Harihareswara
Regional Technical Specialist, Digital Finance
Uloma Ogba
KM Consultant, Zambia
Additional Information
Nandini Harihareswara
Regional Technical Specialist, Digital Finance

Zambia: 20.000 refugees to profit from DFS solutions

Zambia

Zambia: 20.000 refugees to profit from DFS solutions

Kicking off research on potential DFS solutions to increase financial inclusion for migrants
August 28 , 2017

Meheba Refugee Settlement

Meheba Refugee Settlement, ZAMBIA - 

If I had to sum up my first visit to the Meheba Refugee Settlement in Zambia in November 2016 in one word, it would be “confrontation”. From the 45 minute, bumpy bus ride it took to get from the main entrance to the UNHCR offices, to the tour of the different blocks in the settlement, to the impromptu town hall meeting where over 50 residents of the settlement emphatically voiced their opinions about the proposed project. Everything I witnessed made me realize how urgently the refugees want access to financial services. That visit made me rethink everything I thought I knew about migration, freedom of mobility, human rights and access to services that I took for granted.

In the 9 months that have passed since our initial visit, UNCDF and UNHCR have laid the groundwork for a project to develop, and test market-led DFS solutions to transition the Cash-Based Interventions (CBI) within the Meheba refugee settlement to digital (electronic) payments. The objective is to create a thriving and sustainable DFS ecosystem where refugees can have safe and easy access to affordable financial services that could potentially transform their lives such as ability to send and receive money, pay bills such as school fees and access savings and credit facilities.

As we made our way back to Meheba for a second time on August 14th, 2017, it was with a sense of hope and determination. This time, we were coming with good news. Working with UNHCR, the Ministry of Community Development, and the Office of the Commissioner of Refugees in collaboration with DFS consulting firm MicroSave, for the next 8 months, we will spend time doing field research with the residents of Meheba to determine what the proposed DFS solution could look like. We will be talking to and training all the key personnel involved in the CBI program. We will identify and on board one or more DFS providers to implement and test the proposed solution. Hopefully, 8 months from now, we will be able to report back with great news-that the recipients of CBIs and indeed every one of the over 20,000 refugees in the settlement (including current and former refugees and low-income Zambians who have been resettled in the camp) now have access to financial services that previously did not exist.

However, the second journey did not come without surprises. As time has passed, some refugees have left the camp and new arrivals have been received, staff from UNHCR and Ministry of Community Development and Social Services have transitioned to new roles or moved on changing some of our key counterparts in the settlement. This means that we will need to rebuild the knowledge and trust, not just of us but also of DFS.

As we presented the objectives and scope of the project to the field team who are on the ground, day in and day out, working to ensure that the CBI program remains operational and effective, it was encouraging to see their level of excitement and engagement.

Stay tuned and follow us on this journey as we keep you updated on the progress of the project. 

By Uloma Ogba, UNCDF MM4P Knowledge Management Consultant.

For more information, please contact
Uloma Ogba
Knowledge Management Consultant
Additional Information
Uloma Ogba
Knowledge Management Consultant

Zambia Annual Monitor 2016

Zambia

Fri, 08/04/2017 - 16:31 -- anna.ferracuti

While Zambia was the earliest adopter of digital financial services (DFS) in Africa in 2002, it had lagged behind in leveraging those services to advance financial inclusion in the country for many years. Years of inertia have shifted to a period of momentum, which is reflected in an exciting 2016 for DFS.

Quick tests, fast results, strong signals

Zambia

Quick tests, fast results, strong signals

July 03 , 2017

Caroline Chali, Airtel Money Agent

Smiles infront of her shop in Mumbwa

Lukasa, Zambia - 

In a previous blog, we focused on how human-centric design approach was used to co-create ideas with Airtel Money agents. In this blog, we will talk about what followed next, the process of setting up behavioral trials and iterative testing.

Following the process of ideation and co-creation with the Airtel Money agents, 17 Triggers and UNCDF were left with several ideas to test, to determine which ones could become viable solutions to address the liquidity management challenges that agents were facing. The ideas were ranked in order of desirability (is this something the agents want), feasibility (do the providers have the technology and processes in place to support such an idea) and viability (will the resulting solution be cost effective).

Setting up behavioral trials

Once the top three ideas were selected, the research team went about setting up behavioral trials where agents would be exposed to prototypes of the ideas they had helped co-create, for a short period of time in a setting that mirrored their everyday experiences. During the trials, the agents’ interactions with the prototype and any changes in their behavior and actions would be recorded and analyzed. This analysis would help determine the impact the introduction of the intervention is likely to have once it is fully implemented in the agents’ daily practices.

To design the trials, the research team scouted different locations and reviewed the profiles of various agents in each of these locations. With input from Airtel, the team settled on 3 locations where each of the 3 concepts that made the final ranking list would be tested with a group of 10 agents for a period of 3 weeks. The 3 week time frame was chosen because it was a relatively quick time frame to get results but long enough for the agents involved in the trial to get past the initial novelty of the interventions and allow the research team to understand actual usage patterns that emerged.

Iterative testing in the field

When it comes to the human-centric design approach, a key part of the behavioral trials is the iterative testing process. This is a process by which every idea, concept, intervention goes through a process of continual testing and tweaking using observations and feedback gathered from the test subjects to inform subsequent iterations of the concept. Airtel appreciated this process because they were able to get fast results and strong signals.

For instance, prior to the start of the trials agents were asked to agree on the set of norms that would govern their interactions with each other and the provider for one of the concepts tested. However, in practice, the research team observed new norms emerge. This provided an opportunity for them to check in with the agents to ascertain what was going on and how this new set of norms could be incorporated into the product design. The iterative testing process also allowed the research team to quickly uncover what tools worked and which ones did not work when it came to testing tools for customer perception and float awareness.

Key takeaways

When it comes to employing behavioral trials and iterative testing methods, the key things for providers to focus on are that

  • It is quick and yields fast results. Testing periods can be relatively short e.g. a couple of weeks, as long as they allow enough time to observe changes in behavior due to the introduction of an intervention or a change in the normal working process
  • Helps identify strong signals that draw the providers attention to areas that need to be addressed for proposed solutions to be as effective as possible.

Stay tuned for the next blog where we delve deeper into one of the concepts that was tested, the results gained from applying human-centric design and iterative testing to understanding agent journeys and prototyping products with constant agent feedback.

For more information, please contact
Uloma Ogba
Knowledge Management Consultant
Nandini Harihareswara
Regional Technical Specialist, Digital Finance
Additional Information
Uloma Ogba
Knowledge Management Consultant

Zoona recognized as the most creative DFS provider in Zambia

Zambia

Zoona recognized as the most creative DFS provider in Zambia

June 27 , 2017

From left to right: L-R Memory Chirwa (Zoona), Robert Keating (Zoona), Frida Tamba (BoZ), Junior Kwebiiha (UNCDF) and Musapenda Phiri (BoZ). © UNCDFMM4P

Lusaka, ZAMBIA - 

Every year since 2013, the Bank of Zambia (BoZ), in collaboration with other key stakeholders in the financial services ecosystem, has organized the Financial Literacy Week (FLW) campaign to encourage more Zambians to take control of their financial lives. In 2017, the theme for FLW was “Know and plan your finances for a better life”. In the month following the week-long campaign, the Governor’s Financial Literacy Awards ceremony was held to recognize the efforts of financial service providers that actively contributed to the success of the campaign.

This year for the first time, the Awards featured the category Most Creative Digital Financial Services (DFS) Provider for which providers were judged by BoZ based on the level of innovation, simplicity and availability of their DFS product or service in the market in the market.

Finally, the day of the Awards arrived and hundreds of individuals representing over 50 financial service providers crowded into a ballroom at the Intercontinental Hotel in Lusaka, eager to find out which of their peers would walk away that night with a coveted award.  Nervous anticipation filled the room as the representative from BoZ announced the DFS category and the entrants, Airtel  (for their MasterCard for mobile money wallet),  FNB  (for their mobile banking e-wallet), MTN (for their Kongola loan product), Zoona  (for their Sunga Wallet) and Spargris Zambia (Kazang) – Azuri (for their Pay-As-You-Go Solar option). And then the winner was announced…it was Zoona!

Launched in February 2017 by Zoona, Sunga is an e-wallet product that enables customers to keep money safe at no charge. In this way, customers are empowered to reach their savings goals, for example, for school fees, building a house or expanding a business. With over 35,000 users in a relatively short time, Sunga is poised to revolutionize financial inclusion in Zambia. A key advantage of a Sunga account over similar products on the market is that it is easy to set up and no paperwork is required, there is no minimum balance necessary- customers can open an account with less than USD 1 and there are no monthly fees associated with maintaining the account.

Having worked with Zoona as they were preparing to launch Sunga, MM4P was happy to see the efforts of this entrepreneurial and innovative organization recognized publicly. Zoona is one of several DFS providers that have contributed to moving the market forward in Zambia. Zoona Managing Director, Robert Keating, received the award on behalf of Zoona saying “you can expect even greater things from Zoona in 2017”. DFS in Zambia is at a tipping point and the market is growing and expanding. We are excited to see not just what the future has in store for Zoona but also for DFS in Zambia in the coming years.

MM4P is a joint program of UNCDF and FSDZ. 

For more information, please contact
Uloma Ogba
KM Consultant, Zambia
Additional Information
Uloma Ogba
KM Consultant, Zambia

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