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WSBI research explores youth financial exclusion challenge through Ugandan lens

WSBI research explores youth financial exclusion challenge through Ugandan lens
High-tech solutions answer complex hurdles to bring young people into banking mainstream 

>> Visit the PostBank Uganda website​

​Photo: Young Ugandans in working session warm-up exercise to think outside the box by building a tower with their shoes. When done, they evaluated their work and did it again. The exercise makes participants understand that one way is not the only way to find solutions to any problem. Using a participatory approach, youth combined their knowledge and experiences in an attempt to reach study objectives. ​

​​​​​​​​​​BRUSSELS, 29 April 2016 – New research (.pdf) from global savings and retail banking association WSBI says banks must address complex challenges to bring youth out of the financial desert and into mainstream banking services. 

The WSBI-published research is unique because it provides a real-world look at the stumbling blocks faced by all financial institutions when building banking services for youth.

Contained in a nine-page report, done in partnership with WSBI member Postbank Uganda (PBU)​, the study looks at the challenges of and opportunities to address the challenge by boosting outreach towards Uganda’s youth, one of the most financially excluded groups within the landlocked East African nation.

The research identified underlying structural hurdles that Ugandan youth aged 12-30 face, such as power relations associated with gender and age, legal restraints and socio-political and socio-cultural issues. These challenges go well beyond pre-conceived factors for launching youth savings accounts. Financial institutions seeking to do so, it adds, must collaborate with multiple geographic regions, departments and institutions, including the bodies that govern them.

A host of opportunities for tech-driven, pro-youth outreach and tools may work. Mobile phones are such an important tool that should not be underestimated. Led by innovation that is cost-effective and based on existing structures and are achievable for financial institutions youth may become formally included. Online banking, for example, through remote and secure registration is a promising path for this demographic. A mobile banking app, designed based on input from its users, has the best possibilities of being successful.

Report Case Study Bears Fruit: Youth Save savings account

Based on findings of the research, PBU aims to position itself among youth as a bank that welcomes them in and empowers them to save. The research is bearing fruit, as PBU plans to launch YouthSave – a customer-centric youth savings account. The account looks to target youth between the ages of 12 and 35 and is foreseen to incorporate a target savings initiative and a set of technological interfaces. Those interfaces include an initial UGX5,000 (US$1.14) opening deposit, no monthly charges, remote account opening, internet and phone banking as well as customized youth customer e-mail, WhatsApp and phone helplines.

More on the publication and study methodology

The report is based on a study done in partnership with WSBI member PBU from May till September 2015 and with 120 youth aged 12-30, 61 parents or guardians, mobile money agents and PBU staff in Mbarara, Western Uganda. The study looked to (i) expand on the PBU’s existing Youth and Student Savings Accounts, (ii) explore youth’s financial needs vis-à-vis saving and (iii) co-create a technological platform to be part of the new PBU youth savings account.

​The main methodology employed was participatory, which allowed youth to combine their knowledge and experiences in an attempt to reach the study’s objectives. The quantitative phase of the study incorporated a 10-week diary study supported by weekly follow-ups. The gender perspective was incorporated throughout the study, including gender in finance and gender in technology. The aim of this publication is to reflect on the challenges and opportunities for financial institutions seeking pro-youth outreach. Challenges of pro-youth outreach include legal constraints, operational constraints and working with MNOs. Opportunities for pro-youth outreach include building on and supporting existing savings behaviour, reaching out to youth by mobile phones and seeking gender equal financial inclusion.

Financial inclusion; Responsible Business; Digitalisation; Branch management; Training and Consultancy