In Dialog with Wema Financial institution’s Adekunle Alarapon: In a Digitally Dominant Period, Bodily Touchpoints Stay Important for Monetary Inclusion


Adekunle Alarapon (ACIB, CDEF) is Head of Retail Segments for Wema Financial institution Plc, the place he holds tasks 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, business, 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 Girls’s World Banking Making Finance Work for Girls Summit in Mumbai, India, the place he was part of our Girls-Centered Design for Industrial 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 actually efficient.

Q: The speedy transformation towards digital monetary options could also be forsaking low-income ladies who shouldn’t 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 means each women and men entry the web in low- and middle-income nations): As of 2021, they reported ladies in Sub-Saharan African nations have been much less doubtless than males to personal a cell phone and fewer doubtless to make use of cell web after they did personal a telephone by 37% in each eventualities—leaving 192 million ladies on this area with out cell web. How can monetary providers 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 an element?

The monetary inclusion panorama in Nigeria and in most of Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be closely depending on bodily person-to-person (P2P) interplay. Therefore, a profitable method can be the institution of what Wema Financial institution calls “Phygital” facilities—our self-service in-branch platform that mixes the most effective points of conventional and digital banking—throughout geographies and placement, serving to to help ladies’s participation in monetary and financial inclusion.

Wema Financial institution’s Phygital Branches, known as ALAT HUB, are outfitted with digital gadgets that provide clients extra alternative for the way they like to financial institution, enabling ladies who could also be skeptical of solely digital capabilities to get pleasure from needed monetary providers, reminiscent of account opening, card issuance, money withdrawals and deposits, interbank transfers, micro-savings and loans, micro-insurance, financial institution inquiries, and many others. in particular person, however faster and extra seamlessly due to the know-how. It is a artistic means of delivering these providers through a digital channel that’s in a extra acquainted surroundings.

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 count on this product to come across any challenges?

To be sincere, I see some disadvantages within the capacity of such merchandise to scale quick outdoors of city areas within the instant future. Nevertheless, as adoption of digital capabilities expands, suburban communities are likely to see a rise in utilization. Therefore, the design of digital options should think about the social-cultural behaviors and monetary wants of the common African girl to make sure scalability from city to suburban areas, and ultimately to rural clients.

Q: For a lot of low-income ladies clients, participating usually with monetary establishments and their choices could be intimidating, and normal monetary literacy packages could show overwhelming. How can FSPs leverage each in-person and digital options to supply focused functionality constructing—so ladies get solely the data 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 girls “ambassadors” or brokers inside the neighborhood.

Q: Key moments, reminiscent of 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. Girls’s World Banking analysis reveals that sure bodily touchpoints, like working with ladies banking brokers, might help 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 turn out to be probably the most magical strategies for participating low-income ladies in monetary services and products. FSPs ought to develop frameworks that appeal to and encourage ladies brokers to their community, and that assist them function advocates for the supplier. This might embrace designing agent banking kits, reminiscent of waist pouches, aprons and scarves as model identifiers for girls brokers. Girls brokers are then inspired to achieve out to ladies inside their communities and train them the right way to use digital gadgets throughout neighborhood conferences and social events.

Q: In lots of rising economies, it is smart to take care of bodily touchpoints and extra conventional options that girls clients are sometimes extra aware of. Nevertheless, we all know that digital options can typically scale back entry boundaries 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 means that delivered a tailor-made buyer expertise, quite than creating two parallel choices (in-person vs. digital)?

Wema Financial institution, along with Girls’s World Banking and the Invoice & Melinda Gates Basis, designed a micro-savings pockets for low-income ladies, known as NAIRA ASIDE. The product allows ladies to avoid wasting between $1 and $20 (in Naira equivalence) day by day by way of Wema financial institution brokers (ALAT HUBS) positioned 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. Girls are inspired to observe by way of with this day by day financial savings sample for a predetermined interval of three or six months.

Q: As famous in our Summit workshop, enabling ladies to realize higher entry to finance may unlock US$330 billion in annual world 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 big advantages opened for FSPs after they ship holistic monetary options that present ladies clients entry to monetary providers. These embrace however usually are not 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 provided by holistic monetary options—with digital and bodily parts—finally help ladies’s financial empowerment?

Girls’s financial empowerment is supported by way of monetary options which might be intentionally designed with ladies in thoughts. These provide versatile engagement and allow a straightforward walkthrough of the consumer journey that makes digital entry enjoyable and fascinating, quite than a compelling monetary proposition. Human beings react to modifications in several methods and it’s typically tougher to simply adapt to new strategies the older we turn out to be. Therefore, digital monetary options have to be provided in enjoyable and fascinating methods as early as attainable that endear curiosity amongst ladies clients particularly by utilizing the acquainted comfortable mechanisms of constructing mutual belief, relationship, security and reassurances.

Thanks, Mr. Alarapon, to your time and insights!

Be taught extra about Girls’s World Banking’s design methodology, which was essential in our partnership with Wema Financial institution when launching NAIRA ASIDE.


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