What a journey it has been!

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

By Weselina Angelow

A basic account is a secure entry point for previously unbanked people to become financially more resilient. It also opens a whole world of opportunities – be it for investing in education for themselves or their children, or in growing their businesses.

In the words of one of the customers of a Scale2Save initiative, implemented in partnership with Centenary Bank:

“I got to know about CenteXpress account from my friend who helped me open the account. I learned about its benefits from my friend and I also

started opening accounts for other students (through the digital link feature)

I have greatly benefited from CenteXpress through the commissions that I have received for opening accounts for others. Further, my parents send me school tuition digitally via CenteXpress. I also use it to buy airtime. More importantly, it helps me save the little amounts that I can set aside from my tailoring business.”

Nakayima Magret, Student and tailor. Kikuubo, Masaka, Uganda.

Between 2016 and 2022 Scale2Save financially included more than 1.3 million women, young people and farmers in Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Morocco, Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire that helped us better understand – especially in the midst of a pandemic – how, when and why savings contribute to household wellbeing, financial resilience or (creating) business opportunities of or for the people served.

  • Given that the majority of customers are low-income, investments in expanding, restarting, or opening a business can increase income quickly, thereby improving customers’ economic status and financial stability. On average, about 49% used their savings for investment purposes, and most of the time for business-related investments. Almost all financial service providers recorded use of savings for businesses purposes across nearly half of their customers who’d used their savings, 50% of them being male adults. Business investment was also common among adult women. This largely stems from the fact that certain partner FSPs purposely targeted female micro-entrepreneurs and encouraged them to save toward the purchase of a productive asset or another business-related goal. If small balance savings play such an important role for small businesses to sustain, how much more a loan attached to it can assure small business to grow and help create jobs? Something worth exploring going forward.
  • Beyond business investments, approximately 20% of customers used their savings to cover household needs or to finance educational needs.
  • 32% of customers across the target FSPs, indicated that they had experienced some type of shock since they opened their account. 65% of customers who reported experiencing one or multiple shocks indicated that they had used some of their savings to cope with these emergencies.
  • Gender and age aspects matter hugely, but also location and income levels for driving inclusive savings. The research observed differences between ways in which young female customers and young male customers used their savings. Young males more frequently use their savings for business-related purposes, while young females more often use savings for consumption smoothing and for other household-related expenses.

12 unique business models tested

Scale2Save tested and explored 12 very unique business models with a broad range of financial services partners to prove the viability of low balance savings and understand how the institutional model affects the ability to serve the low-income market. Seven of these service partners being WSBI members of which three (BRAC Uganda Bank Limited, Finca Uganda, LAPO Microfinance Bank Nigeria) joined the WSBI family through Scale2Save.

  • The variety of institutions created a whole world of experience that all worked towards the same goal: build partnerships and solutions that are intentional and simple but meet the needs of the specific customer segments they are serving.
  • Sometime this journey was painful, accompanied by repeated trial and error, endless data segmentation and interpolation, all accompanied by an enormous agenda for cultural change to sensitize all value chain actors for what it takes to offer digital savings to low-income people.
  • Here again, female preferences as for the type of information they wish to receive have to be taken into account. It was revealing to us that, across the board, product features seemed to matter less to women than information about channel features and fee structures followed by the need for personal touch points.
  • Digital has been a game changer throughout and not just during COVID but needs to be handled with a gender lens and accompanied by human touch if it is to be successful. If a product worked for women, it equally tended to work for men.
  • The local sales forces, roving agents, field officers, family & friends equipped with digital devices were incremental for creating the volumes of transactions and deposits needed for making the business case for small balance savings work.
  • Financial education – in particular personal nudges – that take women needs and the digital gender gap into account are considered incremental for improving digital account usage.

 

Research

Scale2Save became a strong brand and a community of practice that conducted useful sector research, collaborated with a wide array of sector players and that facilitates disseminating the learnings amongst our members and strategic partners.

Our sector research

For four years in a row, The State of Savings and Retail Banking Sector Series that we put out in partnership with FinMark Trust shed light on innovative models, applied by the now 27 WSBI member institutions in 20 countries on the African continent, sometimes enriched with insights from other sector players such as MNOs, Fintechs, the national Financial Sector Deepening units, the most recent on the state of SME Finance and separately on Innovative Agric Platform models on the African continent.

 

Collaboration with sector players

  • Jointly with Efina (the lead Financial Sector Development Organization in Nigeria) we piloted a customer segmentation tool that creates different customer personas and allows Nigerian financial sector players to define their pro-women or pro-youth financial outreach strategies and that has already generated interest from other financial markets.
  • Together with Centenary Bank and Bank of Uganda (BoU)– the Central Bank – we tested the CGAP customer outcome framework. This framework could help Ugandan FSPs to assess how they meet customer needs around safety, convenience, fairness, voice and choice of services. It can also help the Ugandan and other central banks to assess how the sector meets the goals of its financial inclusion strategy.
  • Insights from Scale2Save allowed us to participate in the European Microfinance Platform’s Action Group on better metrics for savings.

We now have a better understanding of the metrics that track high-level outcomes. This will help WSBI to better tell the story about the huge impact its network has to develop people, businesses and communities.

 

Ongoing dissemination of our learnings to the membership and the wider sector

Our national inclusion events with partners and ecosystem players in Lagos (Nigeria), in Kampala (Uganda) and our close out event in Paris (France) this year received overwhelming interest amongst a couple hundred sector players. In addition, Scale2Save will has put out more than 100 case studies, learning papers, industry reports and blog pieces over the course of its lifetime.

Scale2Save officially ended on 31 August and closed administratively over the course of October. The team however continues unpacking the learnings coming out of Scale2Save on women, youth and farmers, to highlight what drives their economic activity, empowerment and customer engagement, also with a view of continue contributing with learnings to WSBI member best practice exchange and to the ongoing conversation of industry players about financial services’ contribution to impact and wider outcome goals.

For the past six years, Scale2Save has highlighted our African members’ contribution to inclusive finance. Our aim is to have more members benefit from this experience and join our community of practice, which nurtures the role that WSBI members play. It has been a great pleasure to be part of this journey and we thank all our team members, partners institutions, consultants, researchers, national development bodies and policy makers as well as our sponsors the Mastercard Foundation for six years filled with learnings and excitement. We will continue sharing Scale2Save outcomes to keep the momentum alive and raise awareness of the power of the WSBI network.

About the author: Weselina Angelow is WSBI’s Scale2Save Programme Director.

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The financial diaries revealed useful insights into young people's savings, spending and income behavior

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

Our 'Young people in Africa' research focuses different age groups of young people ‒ in three countries: Morocco, Nigeria and Senegal. It examines their experience in respect to financial inclusion, support structures and opportunities for young entrepreneurs. The main methodologies employed included a 13-week diary study, in addition to macro-quantitative analyses of publicly available data and qualitative research.

Savings  Patterns Young People

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A generation of savers
Young people engage in a broad variety of economic activities, ranging from hairdressing and welding to working in the music industry. They also save, mostly to smooth fluctuations in their living costs, buy more expensive items, or ensure they have money to cover unforeseen emergencies. As young adults, they may save to buy a car, a home, or to pay bride price.

Earning money
Diary respondents’ net daily incomes ranged from US$1.05 among mid-teens to US$3.75 among young adults in Morocco, US$0.52 among mid-teens to US$8.58 among young adults in Nigeria and from US$0.19 among mid-teens to US$1.64 for young adults in Senegal.

Youth spending patterns

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The more young people earn, the more they save
Many young people are regular savers. In Nigeria and Senegal about a third of weekly diary observations saw some sort of saving by young people. This suggests that more than half of diary participants in the two countries engaged in saving during the survey period. Savings activity was much less evident in Morocco – barely one-in-six survey responses indicated a saving event – but even this is compatible with up to half the survey group saving at some point during the survey period. Overall, there is a positive correlation between economic activity and saving. Furthermore, young people generally become less financially dependent upon their parents as they move through life stages.

Youth income patterns

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Many want to become entrepreneurs
One of the most striking findings from both our diary and our qualitative research was the desire among many young people in each of the countries we studied to become entrepreneurs. Among our diary respondents, just 6% of those in our Moroccan sample operated a microenterprise, whilst 43% had a full-time job. In Nigeria, 13% were entrepreneurs and 30% employed, while in Senegal 5% were entrepreneurs and 13% employed. Yet when asked about their ambitions, in Morocco, 66% declared an aspiration to self-employment, 81% did so in Nigeria and 64% in Senegal. At national level, Gallup World Poll data for 2018 shows actual employment among 15-24 year olds in Morocco balanced fairly evenly between waged and self-employed. In Nigeria more than three times as many people were self-employed (52%) as in employment (17%), whilst in Senegal 28% were self-employed, compared to 20% in employment.

Social expectations and gender influence behaviour and financial inclusion
Social expectations introduce gender-related issues that influence financial inclusion. Patterns vary. In Nigeria, both young women and young men are expected to marry around the age of 25. In Senegal and Morocco, it may be acceptable for young women to work, but they are often expected to end formal employment when they marry. Social expectations based on gender influence financial behaviours.

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The Power of Community-Based Organizations to Mobilize Farmers’ Savings

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

A Scale2Save project in Cote d’Ivoire shares what they’ve learned working with farmer cooperatives as financial agents

In Ivory Coast, the world’s largest cocoa producer, cocoa is harvested twice a year, in May-June and in October-December. Between seasons, most smallholder farmers do not generate revenue, but they still have several costs to cover, such as seeds and fertilizer. Managing cash flows to cover production costs is a common struggle, as 72 percent of farmers are below the poverty line and less than 10 percent have a bank account, according to a CGAP survey.

Scale2Save project, launched in 2018 with the MFI Advans Cote d’Ivoire, aims to help smallholder farmers address this challenge by enlisting farmer cooperatives to act as financial agents which can hold their members’ savings. The project is built on the strong relationship and high level of trust that exist between farmers and their cooperatives.

A successful start

Three years after the start of this project, 24 cooperatives are now on board, each of them enabling about 300 farmers to deposit and withdraw money from their Advans bank accounts at the cooperative’s office. The cooperatives’ location close to the farmers’ fields makes it more convenient for the farmers and is safer than traveling with cash to the closest bank branch, usually located several kilometers away.

Now farmers can systematically deposit some of their harvest season sales revenues into accounts at the cooperative and then make withdrawals later in the year as needed. The savings allow them to smooth cash flows and improve crop production management. Over the long term, the farmers’ savings could help them to diversify their income sources by investing in a wider range of crops and to become more and more financially autonomous from the cooperatives.

The cooperatives were motivated to join this partnership for two main reasons. One, they can receive a profit through the customers’ transactions. And two, perhaps more importantly, it further strengthens their relationship with the farmers, having a positive effect on the cooperative’s reputation and farmers’ networking opportunities.

By the end of 2021, Advans had collected more than $17 million in savings from some 86,000 famers through their cooperative network. Twitter logo Now the target is to raise that amount to over $19 million in deposits from 120,000 farmers by mid-2022.

Challenges and learning along the way

During the project’s pilot, we encountered a few challenges, which helped us understand better how to provide an effective service that consolidates trust in the agency banking system for all players. Here’s what we learned:

  1. Motivation is not enough; training is key. Becoming a third-party agent was a completely new business for the cooperative and, despite their enthusiasm, staff found it more complex than expected. Originally only one training was foreseen, but in reality several trainings were needed at all staff levels to ensure a 100 percent uptake and for the cooperative to become a fully functioning third-party agent. The trainings focused mainly on cash flow management, and financial and digital literacy.
  2. Prepare for growth with automating solutions. As the network of cooperative agents grew, Advans could no longer rely on ad-hoc exchanges with each one, so it had to set up an agency banking solution in the form of a digital application that enabled effective transactions with a growing network. This application ensured little to no errors in the transactions and a speedy service to the customers. Automating the system also enhances the growth potential, taking Advans closer to its goal of reaching out to a larger number of customers in a variety of agricultural sectors.
  3. Develop relations with mobile network operators to ensure a good system network connection. During the pilot, an unstable mobile network connection in rural areas was a clear obstacle to the cooperatives’ ability to provide financial services. The most common problem this created were undelivered text messages that made customers uneasy when they did not receive confirmation of transactions even a long time after they were made. This had a negative consequence on trust, the pillar of the cooperative-farmer relationship. The solution was to approach the mobile network operators and call on them to put everything in place to ensure a well-working and stable mobile network available on site for the customers to use. This challenge remains even now at certain locations.
  4. Design communications to take into account all literacy levels. Since a high proportion of smallholder farmers are illiterate, the usual financial education tools were not appropriate. To address this particular challenge, Advans developed simple graphic financial education material. The material included illustrations and step-by-step guidance on how to make transactions, making it accessible to both literate and illiterate customers.

The way forward

Despite the successful uptake so far, the business model is not yet viable for the financial service provider. After three years of project implementation, data shows a low number of withdrawals at the cooperative, suggesting that the fees are not attractive and that farmers prefer to spend time and money to travel to the closest bank branch where withdrawals are free. Advans Côte d’Ivoire is now reviewing the pricing strategy.

The gender and age gap also remains a challenge. Out of the 86,000 farmers on-boarded by the end of 2021, only 11 percent are female and 6 percent are under 30 years old. Advans is working with international and local NGOs to empower female farmers and is planning to work directly with women’s groups in 2022.

The model’s challenges are not small, but the potential impact is huge Twitter logo, as 70 percent of Ivory Coast’s population depends to some extent on agriculture for their livelihoods. Scale2Save is sharing the learning from this process as widely as possible, with the aim of showing a way forward to build smallholder resilience and contribute to financial inclusion.

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How Can Small Scale Savings Be Offered Sustainably?

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

Only 55 percent of adults in Sub-Saharan Africa, and 53 percent in the Middle East and North Africa, have an account at a financial institution. Usage rates to make digital payments, as well as to save and borrow are even lower in these regions

How Can Small Scale Savings Be Offered Sustainably?

Learnings from the Scale2Save Program on successful business and institutional models
Vegetable market in Nigeria. CGAP Photo via Communication for Development Ltd.

Only 55 percent of adults in Sub-Saharan Africa, and 53 percent in the Middle East and North Africa, have an account at a financial institution. Usage rates to make digital payments, as well as to save and borrow are even lower in these regions. Few formal financial service providers (FSPs) in Africa offer attractive small scale savings products because the market potential of low-income segments to save is poorly understood. Twitter logo Plus, low usage represents a real drain on bank costs, making FSPs wary of reaching out to this market.

But can small scale savings be offered sustainably? And if so, how? That is what we wanted to find out at Scale2Save, a partnership between WSBI and the Mastercard Foundation which aimed to establish the viability of low–balance savings accounts. From 2016 to 2022, we worked with 12 FSPs in six African countries to test different innovative business models. After six years of implementation, we have a number of lessons learned that we would like to share – in particular around the key drivers we identified for viable business models and the institutional factors that affect an FSP’s ability to offer low-balance savings products.

Developing a viable business model

While there is no “one size fits all” business model, our work with FSPs in Africa helped us identify three business model characteristics that are key for making small scale savings sustainable. Twitter logo These business model drivers address the following three issues:

  1. Demand: How to create a savings product that sells well.
  2. Cost and accessibility: How to make the savings product accessible for low-income clients as well as affordable for the FSP.
  3. Marketing: How to promote savings products efficiently to the low-income segment.

Demand: In exploring how to drive demand, we found that FSPs need to undertake in-depth client research to get to know their clients and identify their underlying needs to develop a product that motivates savers to sign up. For example, farmers need savings to buy inputs to increase their yield, respond to family emergencies, pay for health care because they are not insured and send their children to school.

According to a study of Advans Microfinance Bank in Ivory Coast, 40 percent of cocoa producers have to send their children to school two months later on average because they do not have the funds to pay the school fees at the beginning of the year. Based on that research, Advans now provides smallholder cocoa farmers with savings accounts and education loans to help its customers overcome cashflow challenges between harvests, enabling families to send their children to school following the school calendar and not the harvest season. This bundled product was developed using client insights and prototyping, with focus groups and studies first assessing client priorities and needs, and then constant testing of products with the target clients during the pilot phase.

Cost and accessibility: To be affordable and accessible for the low-income market, savings products should be free or very low-cost, and should take advantage of digitization, agent banking and doorstep services to reach more customers. But these services are not free, so how can an FSP offer them without sending costs through the roof? Without a doubt, the most successful strategy we saw was through partnerships. Centenary Bank in Uganda, for example, shares its agent network with a competitor, FINCA Uganda, increasing agents profits and reducing the bank’s costs. In Ivory Coast, Advans partners with smallholder farmer cooperatives to play the role of third-party agent network, a very successful strategy to mobilize small scale savings with this target customer.

Marketing: All of the business models we looked at needed to reach a certain scale, generally around 100,000 customers, in order to make a profit and become sustainable. Onboarding new customers quickly, and with a positive first customer experience to keep them using the product, is therefore key for sustainability. Transparency and financial education were among the most successful strategies for making this happen. In terms of transparency, LAPO in Nigeria found that customers liked physical cashbooks and SMS transaction confirmation as evidence of their savings rather than relying on the fully digitized system. In addition, multiple financial education trainings through branch and roving staff were necessary for rural mothers to really understand the insurance product features and potential benefits for their family and then start using the product.

Key institutional characteristics

Besides having a viable business model, there are also certain institutional factors that help ensure an FSP can offer small scale savings sustainably. Upon evaluating the Scale2Save program as it came to an end earlier this year, we compiled the following set of institutional conditions that affected FSPs’ ability to successfully serve low-income segments.

  • A wide reach and a strong brand presence are necessary to build the scale required to reach sustainability. Centenary Bank Uganda, for example, not only has a widespread network of 5,800 agents, but also has a well-established brand in the local community thanks to its partnership with the Catholic church.
  • A social mandate and leadership with a pro-poor vision help to ensure the FSP’s commitment to the low-income market. For example, Kenya Post Office Savings Bank’s primary mission is to provide accessible financial services to all segments in the market regardless of their income status.
  • A flat organizational structure expedites decision-making, which is a critical factor in reaching a new target market with a new product.
  • A dedicated department or a senior-level product champion helps to drive efforts within the business towards successfully developing, offering and selling the product. At Advans, the integration of the project team into the Commercial Department and Business Development Department sent a strong signal to staff that these activities were becoming core activities.
  • Willingness to undergo a change management process to transform the institutional culture. The culture of credit-led institutions can negatively affect how customers perceive the FSP’s savings products, as well as the mindset of staff and how they behave in offering savings. Accompaniment through a change management process, aimed at training bank staff on transitioning from a credit-only FSP to a deposit-taking and credit-offering one, has shown positive results.
  • Established digital systems. FSPs which do not have digital solutions already in place will need to go through a digital transformation first in order to offer small scale savings sustainably.

Where do we go from here?

As the Scale2Save program ends, we are encouraged by the learnings we’ve gathered, which show us that it is indeed possible to offer small scale savings sustainably. But there is still much more work to be done. Twitter logo

FSPs need to make concerted efforts to identify savers’ needs through customer research, and to incorporate data-driven decision-making into the product development process. On an ongoing basis, they must focus on customer activity, not just acquisition, to address the common challenge of inactivity and ensure new services’ sustainability. Donors also still have a role to play in driving small scale savings, as the challenges involved in developing a viable business case for low-income segments in Africa mean that FSPs often require an external push to get started.

The financial inclusion sector needs to come together in recognition of the importance of savings. If we each do our part, we can help advance small scale savings so that all customers, regardless of income, have access to a savings account that meets their needs. Twitter logo

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Application of CGAP Customer Outcomes Framework in Uganda

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

The case study has applied the CGAP customer outcome indicator framework to test the impact of a new basic savings product positioned in the financial inclusion market and designed to encourage digital and/or remote account opening and transactions.

As a member of the WSBI and part of the Scale2Save program, a prominent retail bank volunteered this product for a case study.

The objective was to assess if the CGAP customer outcome indicator framework could be applied as a measuring tool to determine whether or not:

  • The design, positioning, performance and management of the product are working as intended;
  • The product is indeed improving the lives of target customers;
  • The bank is contributing to Uganda’s Financial Inclusion goals.

The CGAP customer outcomes indicators are generated from supply-side data and can be used internally by providers to measure their levels of customer-centricity. The ultimate objective, however, is for the jurisdiction’s authorities to have a quantifiable, comparable and consistent way to:

  • Detect which strategies, policies, practices, activities, products/services work for or against the customer;
  • Assess the impact of financial services at a market level for all customer segments; and
  • Determine if, and to what extent, providers in the sector are improving or detracting from national goals.

Since the focus of the Uganda case study is Financial Inclusion, focusing on savings, the jurisdiction-specific context was informed by the Bank of Uganda’s (BoU) Financial Inclusion Strategy, 2017. The five main strategic goals classified twenty gaps that the BoU had set out to address. These gaps were therefore used as the basis to map the global CGAP indicators to Uganda’s context.

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Driving formal savings: What works for low-income women

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

Gender-inclusive products need to be designed with women’s needs in mind. Yet, the real question remains: What services do female customers value, prioritize and need? This learning paper aims to contribute to the growing evidence base around this topic, building on findings from a recent Scale2Save Customer Research.

While financial inclusion is expanding globally, the gender gap in access to financial services and products persists. To close the gender gap in financial inclusion and improve women’s meaningful use of financial services, there is a clear need for financial service providers to transition toward gender-aware strategies to build tailored products that create opportunities for women and lower barriers in their lives.

This paper found that by carefully crafting the customer experience for women, financial service providers considerably amplified the adoption of formal savings products, thus significantly expanding their customer base while also contributing to financial inclusion for a traditionally excluded customer segment, such as women.

Scale2Save is WSBI’s most recent programme for financial inclusion. It operated in six African countries.

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African woman trader

The art of change

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

A practical approach to changing behaviors of financial service providers for more meaningful outreach to  low-income people.

During six years of implementation, the Scale2Save programme for financial inclusion gathered significant learning on institutional transformation. This publication explores the leanings from change management processes within the programme’s partner financial service providers.

Is change possible without changing our behaviours and habits? No. Change is not possible without changing the way we do things. And this requires close accompaniment, trust, and energy.

This paper analyses the processes Scale2Save implemented with LAPO Microfinance Bank in Nigeria,  ADVANS Côte d’Ivoire and BRAC Uganda Bank Limited.

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Digital Financial Inclusion in Nigeria and Uganda: opportunities and remaining challenges

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

Earlier this year, the World Savings and Retail Banking Institute (WBSI) programme for financial inclusion, Scale2Save, through the support of the Mastercard Foundation, hosted in-person knowledge exchange
events in Nigeria and Uganda. The workshops were attended by practitioners and experts from the financial sector, research institutions, civil society, and the media. Across the two events there were many
interesting discussions, however, the potential and challenges around digital financial inclusion (DFI) was a recurring theme across the two events. In this note we summarize key challenges and opportunities
for digital financial inclusion discussed during the two events as well as examples from Scale2Save partners and publications.

Authors: Amy Oyekunle and Daniel Joloba

This note was prepared by the Mastercard Foundation Savings Learning Lab, a six-year initiative
implemented by Itad to support learning among the Foundation’s savings sector portfolio programmes:
Scale2Save and Savings at the Frontier

DFI means providing digital access to formal financial services to excluded and underserved populations. Digital technology has played a significant role in changing the sector and advancing financial inclusion in recent years. This was particularly true during the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw an increased uptake of cashless services and clients using e-banking services, including mobile banking, Point-of-sales (PoS) transactions, and card payments. The Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement Systems (NIBSS) estimates the volume of ATM transactions has grown exponentially in the last six years, more than doubling since 2015 to over 850M in 20191 and USD 340,314 mobile payments per day in Uganda by 20212 Additionally, data from Bank of Uganda (BoU)3 indicates that the number of active debit cards increased by 12.4% from 2.59m in March 2021 to 2.91m in March 2022 while debit card transaction volumes increased by 28.01% from 4.4 million transactions in March 2021 to 5.68 million in March 2022. Credit card transaction volumes increased by 62% from 142,350 to 230,910 transactions over the same period. However, there is an indication that digital transactions are declining and returning to pre-Pandemic levels and there are still challenges that need to be overcome if digital is to deliver on its transformational potential. Challenges such as the limited interoperability for card payments as well as cyber security threats still hamper the wider use of the digital platform

What are those challenges, and why do they matter
Digital platforms can expand access to financial services, but they also exclude. Access to financial services, particularly digital financial services is highly gendered and fraught with inequalities Usage of digital accounts remains low: there has been a steady increase in digital accounts being opened
– 45.3 million bank accounts were opened in Nigeria in January 20226

Infrastructure for digital transactions can be a barrier to access DFS: connectivity, electricity and
infrastructure required for digital financial inclusion are not always present or reliable in rural areas

Regulations have improved but are still a barrier to many potential customers: Even though the Central
Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has simplified the Know-your-client (KYC) regulations required for clients to open
accounts through the three-tier system of using the Bank Verification Number and National IdentificationNumber (NIN), FSPs say this is still a challenge.

Risks associated with digital transactions are high: Increased cases of accidental transactions and
security breaches associated with telcos and mobile apps are a deterrent to customers, diminishing trust
in an already fragile ecosystem.

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Driving financial resilience through formal savings among the low-income population

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

This paper provides a syntesis of research findings that help understand to what extent savings allow customers to increase financial resilience, being a key learning question for the programme.

For customers unable to use savings to cope with shocks, they primarily faced physical and service related challenges to using their savings for resilience purposes, in addition to barriers posed by the product features.

Approximately 70% of the FSP’s customers reported having used part of their savings.

FSP's customers using their savings

The research observed notable differences in financial security between young adults and older adults; young adults were more frequently unemployed, studying, or working temporary jobs compared to older adults. This was also reflected in reported incomes, as a higher proportion of young adults are earning less than
or around the national minimum wage in the target countries than older adults. Young customers were more likely to have been saving informally (42%), or not saving at all
(15%) prior to opening their savings accounts, compared to adult customers. This underlines the program’s impact in deepening access to formal savings products for young customers. Young customers were most compelled to save in case of unexpected emergencies, as reported by an average of 44% of them. (By comparison 34% of adults were saving for unexpected emergencies.) Given that the majority of young customers opened their savings accounts during the COVID-19 pandemic and have lower earnings
than adults, it is not surprising that many aimed to establish ‘safety nets’ that would enable them to cope with unforeseen emergencies.
Additionally, about 30% of young customers were also saving toward a specific goal, such as a dowry, celebration, studies, or others. Lastly, a quarter of young customers were saving with the intent of investing in a business. Research commissioned by Scale2Save in 2019 found that young adults exhibited a strong preference for self-employment. Young adults expressed a greater preference for self-employment over a steady job, and this appeared to strengthen with age. This study also found that young adults, and particularly young men seek to diversify their income sources to reduce risk. Together these factors likely contributed to young adults’ increased resilience to provide for their futures.

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End Term Evaluation of the Scale2Save Programme

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

Abridged report July 2022

End Term Evaluation of the Scale2Save Programme

Scale2Save Programme created a lasting Legacy:
1.3 million more low-income women, farmers and youth are financially included on the African continent

1.3

MILLION

The World Savings and Retail Banking Institute (WSBI) and the Mastercard Foundation engaged Genesis
Analytics to conduct the end-term evaluation of the Scale2Save programme

The purpose of the evaluation was to provide lessons learnt against key learning questions of the programme related to the supply-side.:

  • How does the institutional model affect the ability to offer low balance savings accounts (LBSAs)?
  • What impact has the programme had on partner Financial Service Providers (FSPs)?
  • How has the Scale2Save programme contributed to the ecosystem?
  • What has been the value of partnerships in the delivery of LBSAs under the Scale2Save programme?
  • What is the combination of supply-side and demand-side drivers that emerge for LBSAs?
  • What factors impeded the ability of partner FSPs in the provision of LBSAs during the Scale2Save programme?
  • What factors influence the sustainability of LBSAs developed under the Scale2Save programme
  • Learnings from the evaluation will be used to inform future efforts of increasing demand and supply for low balance savings accounts and for broader ecosystem learning.


The programme
helped FSPs to
overcome obstacles
that would have
been prohibitive
without the
Scale2Save
team’s constant
support.

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