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PERSPECTIVES ON DIGITAL CURRENCY

Oct 28, 2013

Bankable Frontier Associates

Cherie Blair on New Mobile Financial Services Initiative for Women in Nigeria

 

This week I’m speaking at the Financial Inclusion 2020 Summit, an event that is promoting a global campaign to bring ordinary financial services – banking, credit cards, pensions, etc – to more than 2 billion people around the world who are currently excluded from these everyday services.

It’s an issue that is particularly important to me and my Foundation for Women, which promotes women entrepreneurs in the less developed parts of the world, and through which I’ve learned how hard it is for women to run a business without banking facilities. More than that, everyone needs financial services to manage their day-to-day lives and prepare for a better future. But very few in middle-income and especially low-income countries enjoy the access to quality services from formal financial service providers that many of us take for granted.

In wealthier countries, nearly 90% of the population have basic bank accounts. Most middle-class people are supported at every turn by financial services – such as credit cards for everyday purchases, mortgages to buy a home, quick and easy payment services, insurance or pensions. But in low and middle-income countries, the story is different.

More than 2.5 billion people lack access to quality financial services and at least half of that number will include women. If we want to make an impact on financial inclusion, that effort has to include women. Recent research findings from my own foundation, Visa, BFA and GSMA show that not only are women missing out on access to mobile financial services, they are also missing out on the retail opportunities related to these services.

In partnership with Visa, my foundation aims to address this gap, with a focus on Nigeria. Our project will result in 2,500 women becoming agents in the retail network of a leading financial services provider. As retail agents, they will bring branchless banking and mobile financial services to tens of thousands more women in Nigeria. Alongside the retail agent opportunities, the women involved will also benefit from training and capacity building support.

Our primary aim is to enable a greater number of women entrepreneurs to enter the electronic payment value chain in Nigeria – a sector that is set to grow tremendously in the coming months and years.

Why start in Nigeria? Women in Nigeria experience cultural, social and systemic barriers to entrepreneurship including poor infrastructure, lack of connectivity and other barriers. Three times as many men as women have the benefits of being registered as self-employed in the country, and while there are women entrepreneurs in Nigeria, the majority of them are forced to operate in the informal sector. This collaboration would offer opportunities for women to set up registered businesses in a growing sector.

There is a commercial opportunity as well. With only 30% of Nigeria’s population (84.7 million) using banking services and with more than 159 million mobile phone subscriptions, there is great potential for agent banking and other models which enable remote access to financial services in the country. This is as yet an untapped market representing a multi-million dollar industry.

This partnership is a significant step forward towards financial inclusion for women in Nigeria. Economically empowering women by giving them access to the same financial services as men,  is not only a smart way to raise the status of women and their quality of life but also brings benefits to the families and communities of the women who succeed. My foundation is looking forward to developing this project further and driving financial inclusion for women in Nigeria.

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Posted by: Cherie Blair, Founder, Cherie Blair Foundation for Women on October 28, 2013 at 10:57 pm

Mar 8, 2013

International Women’s Day

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day today, Visa is proud to join the global movement to honor the achievements of women around the world. Yet, while we acknowledge the many advancements for women, we also recognize that many challenges remain.

Today, an estimated 2.5 billion adults lack access to formal financial services, and a disproportionate number of them are women.  In many developing countries – as our recent research with the GSMA mWomen Programme demonstrates – women often are the primary household financial managers: paying bills, making daily purchases and trying save for the future. However, many women lack access to the basic financial services – a secure way to carry money, a safe place to save – that could help them better manage their unpredictable and often precarious lives. Access to basic financial tools such as payments and savings is a key driver of women’s empowerment, helping them improve their daily lives while also lifting themselves and their families out of poverty.

At Visa, we are proud to know that our products, services and global network are helping provide women with access to the financial tools they need to lead safer, more convenient and dignified lives. One example is the Visa Giro program, through which many women in Latin America are gaining first-time access to more formal financial services and a secure way to manage their finances In addition to the financial inclusion benefits generated by our products and network.

We’ve also built several partnerships aimed at improving women’s access to financial services, including:

  • Partnering with Women’s World Banking to advance financial inclusion in Nigeria by supporting the development of a commercially-viable savings product tailored to the needs of underserved women. Women will be able to access their savings accounts via bank branches, ATMs and mobile phones, providing them convenience and security.

International Women’s Day offers an opportunity to reflect on the progress that has been made and recommit ourselves to the work ahead. At Visa, through our products, network and partnerships, we look forward to finding new ways to empower women worldwide in the years to come.

Please click here for an executive summary of Unlocking the Potential and watch on-the-ground reports from the team of researchers here.

Visa’s Head of Corporate Responsibility, Douglas Sabo and Cherie Blair, Founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women discuss the profound impact mobile technology is having on the lives of low-income women around the world.

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Posted by: Douglas Sabo, Visa Corporate Responsibility on March 8, 2013 at 9:28 am

Feb 27, 2013

Voices of Inclusion: Daryl Collins, Author & BFA Director

From the show floor at Mobile World Congress, Visa’s Head of Corporate Responsibility, Douglas Sabo interviews thought leaders from the public, private and NGO sectors about the impact mobile services are having on financial inclusion efforts around the world.

Next in the series, Douglas sits down with Daryl Collins, Author of Portfolios of the Poor and Director at Bankable Frontier Associates (BFA) for an extended discussion of the research recently released BFA, the GSMA mWomen Programme and Visa Inc. exploring how women around the world manage their money and how mobile money services can help meet their financial needs.

Among her insights, Daryl shares information about how the money management techniques of women differ from men and the importance of the income that women earn and contribute to family expenses. Daryl shared additional information from the study, including what women reported as the most appealing features of mobile financial services: convenience, security and privacy.

Daryl Collins, Author of Portfolios of the Poor and Director at Bankable Frontier Associates

Other videos in the “Voices of Inclusion” series:

Dr. Maura O’Neill, USAID

Chris Locke, GSMA Mobile for Development

Elizabeth Berthe, Mercy Corps

Cherie Blair, Cherie Blair Foundation for Women

 

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Posted by: Douglas Sabo, Visa Corporate Responsibility on February 27, 2013 at 8:50 am

Feb 25, 2013

Unlocking the Potential: Women and Mobile Financial Services in Emerging Markets

Visa, in conjunction with the GSMA mWomen Programme and Bankable Frontier Associates, is pleased to announce the release of Unlocking the Potential: Women and Mobile Financial Services in Emerging Markets. This new report identifies the financial needs of women living at the bottom of the pyramid; key findings include:

  • Women actively contribute to household income. Seventy-five percent of women surveyed contribute some amount of income, most often from irregular sources like small businesses or agricultural sales.
  • Women use a variety of tools to manage household finances. Nearly 60 percent of women surveyed are saving money for daily expenses and long-term needs, and a full one-third pay the family’s utility bills or make other types of remittances.
  • Women recognize the security and privacy of mobile money. In Kenya, for example, 95 percent of women using mobile remittances rated them as secure and private. In comparison, only half of those using personal delivery of cash as their primary method consider it secure and private.

Additionally, the study identifies actionable next steps for mobile financial service providers that want to expand their business to reach this untapped market, including: increasing mobile access for women; providing better financial literacy services to encourage awareness and understanding; delivering high-quality customer service; and developing targeted solutions to existing barriers faced by women in these markets.

This effort is part of Visa’s ongoing efforts to advance financial inclusion in the developing world. Given that women make up a majority of the 2.5 billion adults who lack access to formal financial products, this report has particular significance for these efforts. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners to bring more underserved women into the financial mainstream, thereby reducing the cycle of poverty throughout the world.

For more information on the report, please click here. To read the full report, please visit the GSMA website.

 

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Posted by: Douglas Sabo, Visa Corporate Responsibility on February 25, 2013 at 11:12 pm

Feb 22, 2013

Series Wrap-Up: Empowering Women with Mobile Money

Next week, Visa, the GSMA mWomen Programme and Bankable Frontier Associates (BFA) will release research that explores the opportunities for mobile financial services (MFS) to better serve the financial lives of women in developing countries. In advance of the formal report, we sat down with BFA’s research team to learn more about their hands-on experiences in the five countries covered in the report: Indonesia, Kenya, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea and Tanzania. We’ve shared their stories over the past few weeks in a blog and video series that showcases women’s experiences with mobile money.

The full series, featured on Mobile Payments Today, is worth checking out. It includes:

The official launch of our study, Unlocking the Potential: Women and Mobile Financial Services in Emerging Markets, will take place during Mobile World Congress 2013 in Barcelona, Spain on February 26th. Aletha Ling, Chief Operating Officer of Fundamo, a Visa company, will discuss the findings during a panel featuring mobile money experts Roar Bjaerum, Head of Easypaisa, Telenor Pakistan and USAID Chief Innovation Officer, Dr. Maura O’Neill. The seminar will be keynoted by Cherie Blair, Founder of The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women.

The report will be available via GSMA and Visa, and will reveal the combined findings featured in this series of stories from the field. We look forward to sharing it with you.

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Posted by: Douglas Sabo, Visa Corporate Responsibility on February 22, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Feb 19, 2013

Empowering Women with Mobile Money: Stories from the Field

In the final piece in our five-part series highlighting the role of mobile financial services for women in developing countries, we sat down with Wajiha Ahmed of Bankable Frontier Associates (BFA) to discuss her experiences in Indonesia. Wajiha’s work will be part of research conducted by Visa, the GSMA mWomen Programme and BFA that explores the role of mobile financial services for women in developing countries.

In her interview, Wajiha explored the financial challenges facing women in both rural and urban Indonesia. Despite significant barriers, women have developed innovative solutions to supplement the lack of formal savings tools with informal mechanisms that help meet their needs.

Watch Wajiha share her in-field experience in this video interview and read more in her guest contribution on Mobile Payments Today.

 

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Posted by: Douglas Sabo, Visa Corporate Responsibility on February 19, 2013 at 9:28 am

Feb 14, 2013

Empowering Women with Mobile Money: Stories from the Field

Visa, the GSMA mWomen Programme and Bankable Frontier Associates (BFA) will soon release the results of a study exploring the role of mobile financial services for women in developing countries. We sat down with BFA Associate Niketa Kulkarni to discuss her experiences conducting focus groups for the study in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Niketa shares her observations of financial management in PNG, a tight-knit environment where it is not uncommon to share money and goods within personal communities. She explores many of the challenges of financial services within this unique culture, and opportunities for how mobile services can help ease some of the burdens.

Watch Niketa share her in-field experience in this video interview and read more on her guest contribution on Mobile Payments Today. This is the fourth in a series of articles exploring mobile financial services in developing economies.

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Posted by: Douglas Sabo, Visa Corporate Responsibility on February 14, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Feb 12, 2013

Empowering Women with Mobile Money: Stories from the Field

 In advance of releasing research between Visa, GSMA mWomen Programme and Bankable Frontier Associates (BFA) that explores the role of mobile financial services for women in developing countries, we sat down with BFA Research Manager Michelle Hasan to discuss her experiences conducting fieldwork for the study in Kenya.

Michelle reported some interesting findings from Kenya, home of one of the most mature mobile financial services markets in the world. With many people already sending and receiving money via mobile phone, Michelle was able to learn first-hand the likes and dislikes about these services.

Michelle shares her experience in Kenya in a guest contribution on Mobile Payments Today. Also watch BFA Director Daryl Collins share similar feedback from her experiences in Kenya in this video interview.  This is the third in a series of articles exploring mobile financial services in developing economies.

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Posted by: Douglas Sabo, Visa Corporate Responsibility on February 12, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Feb 7, 2013

Empowering Women with Mobile Money: Stories from the Field

In advance of the release of the ground-breaking research between Visa, the GSMA mWomen Programme and Bankable Frontier Associates (BFA) that explores the role of mobile financial services for women in developing countries, we sat down with BFA Associate Kristy Bohling to discuss her experiences conducting fieldwork for the study in Tanzania.

Kristy explored the lifestyles of mobile money users and non-users, assessing the barriers that still exist for underserved women in Tanzania, and exploring opportunities for empowering more women to use mobile financial services.

Watch Kristy share her in-field experience in this video interview. Kristy also shares her experiences in a guest contribution on Mobile Payments Today , the second in a five-part series exploring mobile financial services in developing economies.

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Posted by: Douglas Sabo, Visa Corporate Responsibility on February 7, 2013 at 9:19 am

Dec 11, 2012

Empowering Women through Mobile Financial Services: Stories from the Field

Today, half the world’s adult population (2.5 billion) lacks access to basic financial services – the majority of which are women.[1] With the rapid spread of cell phones, mobile financial services offer a unique opportunity to help close this gender gap.

At Visa we’re working with banks, governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to provide the financially underserved with secure, reliable and affordable financial services at scale. To that end, Visa has partnered with GSMA’s mWomen Programme (GSMA) and Bankable Frontier Associates (BFA) to understand the wants and needs of women for mobile financial services in Indonesia, Kenya, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, and Tanzania.

Mobile technology in the hands of women can provide access to life-enhancing services, but studies have shown that there is a demonstrated gender gap in mobile phone ownership and usage. In Pakistan, for example, only 12 percent of the total population has a bank account, and those who do are primarily men. In contrast, mobile phone usage hovers around 70 percent. This research will identify how to bridge that gap – connecting women to the mobile financial services they desperately need to enter the financial mainstream.

To learn more about women’s banking experiences in Pakistan, watch this video from the field and visit Mobile Payments Today for a guest contribution from Fundamo’s Aletha Ling and GSMA’s Chris Locke.

To read more about Visa’s commitment to financial inclusion and its mission to be the best way to pay and be paid, for everyone, everywhere click here.


[1] Half the World is Unbanked, Financial Access Initiative

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Posted by: Douglas Sabo, Visa Corporate Responsibility on December 11, 2012 at 8:52 am