Banking the World
"Digital channels can drastically drive down costs for customers and service providers, opening the door to remote and underserved populations. Financials regulators around the world have realized the tremendous role DFS can play for financial inclusion and seek to unlock this potential by creating enabling environments for digital financial services." AFI
The digital revolution has taken many organisations by surprise. If you want to serve your staff / clients / customers and prosper in an increasingly competitive market, then you must take advantage of the opportunities DFS offers. Since 2012, LFS has been at the forefront of promoting DFS for financial inclusion, as with the right market assessment, strategy, design and implementation, digital channels and products can help organisations tap into new markets, increase client loyalty, reduce transaction costs, increase transparency and speed up reporting.
If FIs want to serve their clients well and survive in this increasingly competitive market, they must take advantage of the opportunities digital finance offers. They must introduce products and services that are tailored to the specific needs of the underserved population. As such, FIs have been rolling out agent and mobile banking. Agribusinesses are looking for more efficient ways to pay their smallholder farmers (than cash). There is scaling up of mobile money by Mobile Network Operators and Payment Service Providers. Policy makers and regulators are making enabling conducive environments. However, Financial Institutions (FIs) face growing competition from Telcos, Fintechs, Big Techs (Alibaba, Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) and an influx of innovative, flexible, and customer-oriented products and services.
LFS believes that through partnership development, knowledge and experience, and technical know-how we can help clients with their digital transformation journey. For example, innovative solutions are now looking beyond savings and loan products and are incorporating advanced products such as pay-day loans, bill payments and insurance. With this in mind, it’s imperative to design customer centric products and services that address the necessities and desires of the unbanked, focusing especially on the unique needs of women.
As a specialist advisory firm, LFS supports clients to make the right decisions and realise their digital opportunities. We have implemented DFS projects for a variety of clients and gained profound knowledge of digital finance solutions and a strong expertise in defining new business models. LFS combines the business and technology expertise to support a range of organisations with a broad spectrum of services to scale up and manage risks for lasting success. By leveraging DFS, LFS can help you to reduce your operational costs, increase your outreach, and develop / modify products or services which are more customer centric. For instance, in the microfinance sector LFS has helped clients with strategizing and implementing agent banking and mobile money solutions to customers who were previously excluded.
For the last 20 years, LFS has built up a distinctive and exceptional track record in the financial inclusion sphere and which has included market assessments (macro level), feasibility studies (micro level) and a range of Digital Financial Services projects.
LFS understands that DFS is more than just mobile money, it’s even more than access to financial services (loans, savings, transfers and insurance) but rather it is part of a transformation strategy to make your organisation more customer centric.
In 2019, UNCDF contracted LFS to provide technical assistance for the development of Vodafone Fiji’s digital payments strategy. Vodafone is the leading operator of mobile money and m-commerce in the Pacific and wishes to reinforce this market position by aligning its current payment offering and adding further digital financial services and products to the existing ecosystem. Starting with an analysis of the external environment for digital payments and financial services in Fiji and the region, LFS subsequently conducted a diagnostic mission to the Vodafone Headquarter in Suva, Fiji to map existing digital payment services and ongoing payment initiatives and assess the internal digital readiness of all departments. The on the ground mission culminated in a participatory digital strategy workshop with Vodafone’s key executives, during which the key pillars of the digital strategy were agreed and subsequently translated into an aligned and comprehensive strategy document.
FIs face growing competition from Telcos, Fintechs, Big Techs (Alibaba, Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) and an influx of innovative, flexible and customer-oriented products and services into the financial space. If FIs want to serve their clients well and survive in this increasingly competitive market, they must take advantage of the opportunities digital transformation offers to improve the customer experience and make middle and back office processes more efficient.
Launched in 2020 the digital transformation gap analysis tool has been deployed with 14 clients in 8 countries and giving management, BOD and investors quantifiable data to benchmark and qualitative data to fully understand the FIs position on their transformation journey.
From 2017 till 2019, LFS worked with the Social Fund for Development (SFD), the Yemenite apex body, to enhance the agricultural loan process via the introduction of a digital tool to improve the collection and analysis of loan data. For this project, a tablet based smart application was developed which allows agricultural loan officers to enter loan data (pictures, GPS locations, financial details and cross-checks) in the field. After data entry, the application can be connected to the MFIs’ back-end systems for information processing. LFS supported two MFIs to successfully pilot and rollout of the smart application. A first benchmarking exercise three months after introduction of the tool revealed that the MFIs were able to increase the average number of monthly loan applications by nearly 20% and reduce backend data entry time from 25 minutes to 10 minutes per application. The app was subsequently introduced by other Yemeni MFIs with the support of SFD.
Under the management and technical assistance of LFS, AccessBank Tanzania (ABT) has engaged on an ambitious digitization journey since 2012 when the bank won a large grant from the MasterCard Foundation.
Following the success of its alternative channels strategy the bank introduced a digital bundle in May 2015, and which included: free current account with free mobile banking transactions (all incoming and outgoing transfers). This was an immediate success and the bank opened more than 30,000 accounts and mobilized more than USD 3 million deposits in under a year.
The digitization agenda is core to the strategy and the bank is currently adjusting its business and operating models to offer a full range of digital services. In 2020, LFS supported ABT in developing an all-digital merchant loan product. Building on M-Pesa’s merchant payment platform - Lipa kwa Simu, and in partnership with Vodacom Tanzania, Vodafone Global and FICO, the project’s objective is to design a credit score based on merchant till & Know Your Business (KYB) in order to provide access to fair-priced funds to merchants.
In 2020 the Co-operative Development Foundation (CDF) of Canada commissioned LFS to support SACCOSs in Tanzania, Ethiopia and Malawi in digitalising their service offering and thereby enhance enrolment of unbanked rural communities. In Tanzania the assignment was conducted in partnership with SCCULT, an apex organization for SACCOS across Tanzania.
In the project LFS worked on two levels:
The LFS market assessment revealed that less than 5% of Tanzanian SACCOS’ are currently offering financial services through mobile wallets while a majority of members would like to see their SACCOS offering loan repayments and savings deposits via a mobile wallet.
Based on these findings, LFS selected the M-PESA collection and disbursement account for mobile money solution and supported designated SACCOS to implement the same. By the end of the project, LFS had supported three SACCOSs to successfully on-board on the M-PESA payment system, allowing SACCOS member to repay their loans and deposit saving from the convenience of their fingertips.
Market entry assessment for a shared core-banking and payments solution.
Digital Transformation support with specific focus on agent commerciliasation, adding VAS products / services and implementation of nano credit savings and loans.
AB Bank Zambia
Analysis of rural customer needs including savings groups, farmers and women and definition of digital products on AB Bank’s eTumba wallet which meet rural customer’s need and business opportunities using a human centered approach.
FINSCOPE DFS Thematic report. Analyse FinScope 2020 dataset and produce a report, prepare a presentation for AFR and its stakeholders and a focus note with infographics for wider publication.
Diagnostics for eCommerce Payments Aggregation Services in the Pacific Region and identification of opportunities to pool transactions from multiple Pacific markets through payments aggregation services.
Market analysis of the financial sector with a focus on Digital Financial Services, Agri-Finance and MSME Finance. Including recommendations for IFC investments.
Digital Transformation Readiness Analysis for various financial institutions (Commercial Banks, Investment Banks, Microfinance Banks and SACCOs).
Design a credit score for digital merchant loans that builds on M-Pesa’s merchant payment platform - Lipa kwa Simu. The project was conducted in partnership with Vodacom Tanzania, Vodafone Global and FICO.
CDF Canada, ILCUF Ethiopia, SCCULT Tanzania, MUSCCO, Malawi
A consultancy for assessing ways that enhance enrolment of the unbanked rural communities to the services and products of ILCUF (Ethiopia), SCCULT (Tanzania) and MUSCCO (Malawi) and support selected SACCOSs to introduce digital financial services (mobile money payment and agent banking services).
Technical input into mobile money SACCOs pilot report.
2019 - 2020
Market analysis of the financial sector with a focus on Digital Financial Services. Including recommendations for IFC investments.
Financial sector development needs assessment and DFS gap assessment.
For the last 12 years, Chris worked in Sub-Sahara Africa and the MENA region, mostly as a freelance consultant across multiple sectors – finance, agriculture, public health and FMCG, on projects ranging from strategy and business analyst to implementation, partnerships and product development. His previous range of clients included a Payment Service Provider, a Mobile Network Operator (MNO) and a USAID access to finance project in Jordan. Prior to starting his career in development consultancy, Chris gathered 6 years of commercial experience in- UK and Ireland, recently he was the first graduate to become a Certified Digital Finance Practitioner, this complimenting his post-degree certificate in microfinance and degree in Marketing.