How to achieve true fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion

Business Daily (Kenya) - - LIFE: STARTUP - ED­WARD OBIKO, con­sul­tant work­ing in dig­i­tal inan­cial ser­vices at Mi­crosave Con­sult­ing

Is regis­tra­tion for mo­bile ac­counts (wal­lets) re­ally enough? What is an ideal mea­sure of nan­cial in­clu- sion? We cel­e­brate spec­tac­u­lar ac­cess lev­els to dig­i­tal nan­cial ser­vices such as M Pesa, yet they’re be­com­ing more ex­pen­sive for ev­ery day – higher taxes notwith­stand­ing. Ac­cord­ing to The Al­liance for Fi­nan­cial In­clu­sion (AFI), the rst di­men­sion to mea­sure nan­cial in­clu­sion is ac­cess to the nan­cial ser­vices and prod­ucts that for­mal in­sti­tu­tions of­fer. To achieve mean­ing­ful ac­cess, we have to solve the signi cant prob­lems re­lated to the cost of de­posit­ing and with­draw­ing elec­tronic funds. In­deed, this begs the ques­tion – are we serv­ing wine to cus­tomers who need blan­kets? A story is told about a great ood that was threat­en­ing to wipe out an en­tire is­land. There were many peo­ple on the is­land who were in dan­ger. Some could swim, a few had small boats, but the ma­jor­ity were help­less. A ship that was pass­ing by ar­rived to res­cue the peo­ple. In des­per­a­tion, a num­ber of is­lan­ders started tak­ing to the wa­ters with makeshift equip­ment. The ship got there on time. A signi cant num­ber were saved, al­beit in bad shape. There were, how­ever, a much big­ger num­ber of is­lan­ders yet to be saved, but peo­ple feared that the ship was al­ready too over­loaded. A great de­bate then be­gan be­tween the mas­ter of the ship and his han­dlers. Should they give some blan­kets and wine that the ship had in stock to the peo­ple on board who were cold and starv­ing and then take them to safety? Or should they toss the mer­chan­dise over­board to re­duce the weight, then save some more is­lan­ders in need? The ood in the story rep­re­sents poverty and the ship rep­re­sents ba­sic ac­cess to prod­ucts for nan­cial in­clu­sion. The blan­kets and wine are value-added dig­i­tal prod­ucts and the drown­ing is­lan­ders would be the nan­cially ex­cluded. A mid­dle-ground so­lu­tion to this dilemma could be to toss the wine and give blan­kets to those on board while try­ing to save more peo­ple. If we wish to help peo­ple out of poverty through ba­sic ac­cess to nan­cial prod­ucts, it would re­quire us to en­sure that this ac­cess can pro­vide the prod­ucts that de­liver mean­ing­ful value and help low-in­come cus­tomers man­age their lives bet­ter.

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