This year’s Symposium on Financial Inclusion was held in Accra, Ghana and as usual the deliberations were as exciting and insightful as many had anticipated. The event hosted by the Mastercard Foundation, happened at the Kempinski Accra hotel brought together key players in the world of financial inclusion numbering over 400 from over 50 countries.
As is always the case with similar Mastercard events, the interactive sessions are always very exciting. Sometimes it is the surveys or the debates that get almost everyone following keenly and eager to be part of the conversation.
During each of the symposia, Mastercard Foundation awards the Client at the Centre Prize worth $150,000 to recognise the organisation that is most focused on client centricity to enable poor people in developing countries to access formal financial products and services.
The finalists for this cherished prize present their business models to the audience of over 400 industry professionals who are then tasked to vote for the winner. Each organisation has only a few minutes to present its case and win hearts and a fat cheque.
The inaugural award in 2015 went to the Swedish mobile microinsurance firm BIMA. Last year, the Prize was presented to the South African international remittance company, Hello Paisa. Every year more than 100 organisations send in application and you can imagine the Herculean task of cutting that number down to only three .
This year the three finalists were:
● Jumo, a large-scale, low-cost financial services marketplace that uses behavioral data from mobile usage to create financial identities for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises;
● ftCash, one of India’s fastest growing financial technology ventures which aims to empower micro-merchants and small businesses with the power of digital payments and loans; and
● Destacame, a free online platform that empowers users by giving them control over their data to build their financial capabilities and to access financial products.
The aim of the prize is always to highlight the best practices that appeal to client satisfaction. In other words for one to win, the audience ought to be convinced that the client’s needs are not only met but are at the centre of the design of the financial service being offered.
After all was said and done, Jumo, the South African-based company as a large-scale, low-cost financial services marketplace, were the lucky winners of that evening in Accra. After being awarded the Prize, Buhle Goslar, Director of Customer Intelligence at Jumo said “For anybody in a customer function, this is probably the most exciting prize to win because of the people who are voting for it. They really know about customer centricity; for them to vote for us is a great acknowledgement of the work that we’ve been doing.”
The Mastercard Foundation believes that banks and other financial service providers in developing countries should focus more on the needs and expectations of people living in poverty. Putting poor clients at the centre of the design of new financial products and services helps bring them into the formal banking system, improving their livelihoods and their ability to plan for the future.
“The Symposium on Financial Inclusion (SoFI) has focused on client centricity for the past five years,” said Ann Miles, Director of Financial Inclusion at the Mastercard Foundation. “We are thrilled to award this year’s prize to Jumo for its exemplary work of putting clients at the centre of its business model. As we reflect on the past five years of SoFI, it is more important now than ever before to recognize companies such as Jumo and encourage them to continue providing access to financial products for those who need it most.”
The other two Prize finalists were ftcash, one of India’s fastest-growing financial technology ventures which aims to empower micro-merchants and small businesses with the power of digital payments and loans, and Destacame, a free online platform in Latin America that empowers users by giving them control over their data to build their financial capabilities and to access financial products.
About the Mastercard Foundation
The Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Africa. As one of the largest private foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. Based in Toronto, its independence was established by Mastercard when the Foundation was created in 2006.