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New Scale2Save case study: innovative business models

New Scale2Save case study: innovative business models

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Explores innovative business models and partnerships for financial service providers to effectively access the mass market of low-income customers. Part of Scale2Save's annual State of Savings and Retail Banking in Africa research series.​​

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>> See the full case study

>> State of the Sector Case Study 2021: Mobile Financial services EN l FR

>> State of the Sector Case Study 2020: Covid-19 Impact EN | FR

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BRUSSELS, 20 May 2021 - ‘A case study on innovative business models: partnerships as a key to unlocking the mass market’, launched today in partnership with FinMark Trust​, is the third of the Scale2Save series on the State of Savings and Retail Banking in Africa.

This study contributes to answering some of the Scale2Save learning programme research questions. Particularly, it sheds light on what constitutes a viable business model for small scale savings. The objective of this series is to inform retail banks and other financial service providers (FSPs) about developments in the industry affecting services to low-income customers.

Scale2Save is a partnership between the World Savings and Retail Banking Institute and the Mastercard Foundation. Its goal is to establish the viability of low-balance savings accounts and to understand the extent to which savings allow vulnerable people to boost their financial resilience and wellbeing.

 

About this study


Financial services in Africa still have great potential for expansion, particularly in the low-cost market, which remains under-served.

Financial service providers (FSPs) who serve low-income customers face a threefold challenge. Digitization is becoming the norm, both within the financial services industry and in the fast-emerging FinTech sector. They wrestle with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on their customers. And they must simultaneously adapt to changing and more demanding customer expectations. These FSPs are under pressure. How they should adapt to these new, unfolding realities?

New and varied business models are emerging from efforts to address these issues. These models range from cooperation with other FSPs to the use of digitization and FinTech, to tackling addressing infrastructure shortcomings and addressing customer expectations.

This study describes six models, linking each to case studies:

Cooperate with other FSPs - FSPs can compensate for their lack of physical infrastructure by partnering with service providers who have a more extensive network to offer their products. Similarly, FSPs with a limited range of products – often prescribed by regulatory or legal considerations – can enhance their value proposition to customers by incorporating products from other FSPs. These models are beneficial to both parties, because the overall business volume will exceed their individual efforts.

Cooperate to build and extend financial infrastructure - Despite progress in the past decade, the financial infrastructure in many African countries is still inadequate for the needs of savings-led FSPs. FSPs can work together to tackle these shortcomings, especially in retail payments and credit information systems. Cooperation can be either directly with other FSPs to improve infrastructure or through engagement with financial regulators to establish what the FSPs need to serve customers better.

Cooperate with mobile money operators - Mobile money operators (MMOs) are the dominant retail financial service providers in some African countries. This strong market position, combined with the reach of mobile money agents, makes these FSPs attractive partners for banks, enabling them to offer banking services to mobile phone customers. These partnerships are also attractive to MMOs, enabling them to generate additional revenue and enhance their appeal to customers by offering banking services without the challenges of seeking a banking licence.

Use FinTech - Innovation in retail financial services is often achieved by independent technology-based companies or FinTech. These companies develop ways of providing financial services digitally, but typically lack direct access to customers. By working together, savings-led FSPs can incorporate the services into their value proposition without having to acquire or develop the internal capacity necessary. FinTech services span a wide range of financial capabilities, from client-onboarding, payments and savings and investments to credit and credit-assessment services.

Establish a purely digital FSP - FSPs with strong digital capabilities or commitment can establish a purely digital bank, with no branch network and all client services and interactions done digitally. This may be simpler than trying to digitize an existing operation but is resource-intensive.

Cooperate with non-financial service providers - Increasingly, FSPs need to link directly into the economic ecosystem in which they operate. They must enable customers to obtain goods and services where required, and provide the financial service embedded in that interaction. This can take various forms, from the digitization of value chains across all actors (for example in agriculture), to incorporating the FSP’s products in the services of a non-financial service provider (such as remittances sent or received at grocery stores).

In each case we identify the key points that FSPs should take into account when considering a particular model, and give an example of the model, identifying the success factors and hurdles to be overcome.

The study concludes by summarising the strategic questions that FSPs should answer when looking at alternative business models. We provide a decision tree that FSPs can use to guide them in selecting an alternative business model best suited to their situation and environment.

Other studies in this series will address specific approaches to some of these models.

Scale2Save; Business case