Adekunle Alarapon (ACIB, CDEF) is Head of Retail Segments for Wema Financial institution Plc, the place he holds obligations for Agent Banking & Monetary Inclusion, Gaming & Leisure Enterprise, Office Banking and Feminine Gender (Sara) Propositions. Mr. Alarapon has greater than 20 years of banking expertise in operations, management, industrial, retail and digital banking. He’s an Affiliate of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, the place he acquired an award in Technique & Management; a member of the Chartered Institute of Administration Accountants, UK; and an Affiliate Member of the Nigeria Institute of Administration. He additionally has a Certificates in Digital Digital Finance from the Frankfurt Enterprise Faculty in Germany.
Mr. Alarapon just lately spoke at our 2023 Ladies’s World Banking Making Finance Work for Ladies Summit in Mumbai, India, the place he was part of our Ladies-Centered Design for Business Viability Workshop. We’re thrilled to attach as soon as extra with Mr. Alarapon for his insights on how women-centered design can form holistic or “hybrid” monetary options—that’s, options that bridge the hole between the digital and the bodily—and talk about how these options ought to meet ladies clients the place they’re at of their monetary journeys to be really efficient.
Q: The fast transformation towards digital monetary options could also be forsaking low-income ladies who would not have handy or dependable entry to digital choices—if they’ve entry in any respect. GSMA’s newest analysis notes a stall in progress in closing the gender hole in cell phone possession and utilization (the first manner each women and men entry the web in low- and middle-income international locations): As of 2021, they reported ladies in Sub-Saharan African international locations had been much less seemingly than males to personal a cell phone and fewer seemingly to make use of cellular web after they did personal a telephone by 37% in each eventualities—leaving 192 million ladies on this area with out cellular web. How can monetary companies suppliers (FSPs) tackle points in entry to make sure that they’re nonetheless in a position to attain and interact all ladies clients? Do bodily touchpoints play a component?
The monetary inclusion panorama in Nigeria and in most of Sub-Saharan Africa remains to be closely depending on bodily person-to-person (P2P) interplay. Therefore, a profitable system could be the institution of what Wema Financial institution calls “Phygital” facilities—our self-service in-branch platform that mixes the perfect facets of conventional and digital banking—throughout geographies and placement, serving to to assist ladies’s participation in monetary and financial inclusion.
Wema Financial institution’s Phygital Branches, referred to as ALAT HUB, are outfitted with digital units that provide clients extra selection for a way they like to financial institution, enabling ladies who could also be skeptical of solely digital capabilities to take pleasure in needed monetary companies, equivalent to account opening, card issuance, money withdrawals and deposits, interbank transfers, micro-savings and loans, micro-insurance, financial institution inquiries, and many others. in individual, however faster and extra seamlessly due to the know-how. It is a inventive manner of delivering these companies through a digital channel that’s in a extra acquainted setting.
Q: Say there’s a monetary establishment that has a digital resolution with nice potential to drive monetary inclusion for last-mile ladies clients, however they don’t have any bodily touchpoints embedded within the resolution course of. Would you anticipate this product to come across any challenges?
To be sincere, I see some disadvantages within the skill of such merchandise to scale quick outdoors of city areas within the rapid future. Nonetheless, as adoption of digital capabilities expands, suburban communities are likely to see a rise in utilization. Therefore, the design of digital options should contemplate the social-cultural behaviors and monetary wants of the typical African girl to make sure scalability from city to suburban areas, and finally to rural clients.
Q: For a lot of low-income ladies clients, participating recurrently with monetary establishments and their choices could be intimidating, and basic monetary literacy packages might show overwhelming. How can FSPs leverage each in-person and digital options to offer focused functionality constructing—so ladies get solely the knowledge they want, proper after they want it?
This should begin with the coaching of FSP personnel on the strategies and kinds of gross sales dynamics/pitches to low-income ladies. There’s a want to start out with constructing belief and relationships with the ladies; as soon as established, product choices could be launched utilizing a trusted beneficiary/product-user as a reference level. This may be finished by making a small group of ladies “ambassadors” or brokers inside the group.
Q: Key moments, equivalent to signing up for an account or conducting the primary transaction, are essential to constructing ladies clients’ confidence and belief—and these advantages could also be misplaced when such moments are solely carried out digitally. Ladies’s World Banking analysis reveals that sure bodily touchpoints, like working with ladies banking brokers, can assist construct belief with ladies clients and the monetary system. How can FSPs leverage these in-person experiences to encourage the transition to utilizing digital options as properly?
Using ladies banking brokers has grow to be some of the magical strategies for participating low-income ladies in monetary services and products. FSPs ought to develop frameworks that entice and encourage ladies brokers to their community, and that assist them function advocates for the supplier. This might embody designing agent banking kits, equivalent to waist pouches, aprons and scarves as model identifiers for ladies brokers. Ladies brokers are then inspired to achieve out to ladies inside their communities and educate them the best way to use digital units throughout group conferences and social events.
Q: In lots of rising economies, it is sensible to keep up bodily touchpoints and extra conventional options that ladies clients are sometimes extra aware of. Nonetheless, we all know that digital options can typically scale back entry obstacles for low-income ladies and scale back long-term prices for suppliers. Are you able to inform us of a use case from Nigeria the place Wema Financial institution blended these moments, bodily and digital, in a manner that delivered a tailor-made buyer expertise, reasonably than creating two parallel choices (in-person vs. digital)?
Wema Financial institution, along side Ladies’s World Banking and the Invoice & Melinda Gates Basis, designed a micro-savings pockets for low-income ladies, referred to as NAIRA ASIDE. The product allows ladies to avoid wasting between $1 and $20 (in Naira equivalence) each day by way of Wema financial institution brokers (ALAT HUBS) situated inside their communities. These financial savings are made within the type of money deposits into their digital wallets through in-person brokers and obtain the worth of their accounts immediately. Ladies are inspired to comply with by way of with this each day financial savings sample for a predetermined interval of three or six months.
Q: As famous in our Summit workshop, enabling ladies to achieve higher entry to finance might unlock US$330 billion in annual international income. Are you able to spotlight among the enterprise advantages for FSPs after they ship holistic monetary options (bodily and digital resolution parts) that present ladies clients with the “better of each worlds”?
There are enormous advantages opened for FSPs after they ship holistic monetary options that present ladies clients entry to monetary companies. These embody however aren’t restricted to alternatives for worldwide collaboration with different like-minded establishments; micro and macroeconomic enlargement for the FSP; and affiliation with governmental and non-governmental establishments.
Q: How does the pliability supplied by holistic monetary options—with digital and bodily parts—finally assist ladies’s financial empowerment?
Ladies’s financial empowerment is supported by way of monetary options which are intentionally designed with ladies in thoughts. These supply versatile engagement and allow a straightforward walkthrough of the person journey that makes digital entry enjoyable and fascinating, reasonably than a compelling monetary proposition. Human beings react to modifications in numerous methods and it’s typically harder to simply adapt to new strategies the older we grow to be. Therefore, digital monetary options should be supplied in enjoyable and fascinating methods as early as attainable that endear curiosity amongst ladies clients particularly by utilizing the acquainted tender mechanisms of constructing mutual belief, relationship, security and reassurances.
Thanks, Mr. Alarapon, to your time and insights!