By Shafique Jamal, IFC-Mastercard Foundation Partnership for Financial Inclusion
In Ghana, Digital Financial Services (DFS) providers are increasing financial inclusion. The Partnership for Financial Inclusion is working with one bank, for example, to expanding its presence geographically, to better reach the unbanked and under-banked. To this end, carefully planning where to recruit and place agents in various parts of the country. The bank is specifically targeting areas with low rates of financial inclusion. Having a vast network of effective agents will also allow their branches to focus on higher value activities, further strengthening their financial ecosystem. The Partnership is also working with a mobile network operator (MNO), undertaking initiatives to increase the adoption of mobile money among its customers and wants to have measures of the local likelihood of mobile money adoption for each cell tower.
In both cases, these IFC clients have found value in having an interactive map that plots the entities of interest (like concentrations of unbanked individuals) and data associated with those entities (like rates of cell phone ownership). This information shows where to focus efforts to increase financial inclusion at specific geographic points. A picture is worth a thousand cells in a spreadsheet, and an interactive tool that visualizes location-tagged data in ways that are specific to a client’s needs is worth much more. The interactive mapping tool informs strategy and operations to support outreach campaigns. These types of tools equally support responsible financial services, precisely by helping providers to better understand their markets and how to deliver more inclusive offerings. Data-driven DFS providers are implementing tools like these to understand their markets and scale access to new customer segments. More information about similar case studies can be found at the Data Analytics and Digital Financial Services Handbook.
The IFC team needed to support the client to visualize the locations of branches, potential banking agents, target customer areas, existing customers, and survey areas for planning surveys of retail outlets and target customers. Initially the team used Google Maps to create these maps, but limitations of Google Maps made using this solution difficult. The team therefore created this application to generate more customized maps with fewer limitations. Over the course of the engagement, the maps were refined in consultation with the client and added additional capabilities based on the availability of supplementary survey data. With the added data and capabilities, the client increasingly found the application more useful and requested that it be made available to them on their computers.
The Geomapping Application is a geovisualization dashboard that allows the bank to visualize the locations of various entities of interest – its branches, proposed agents, target customers, existing customers, survey areas, surveyed persons, as well as retail outlets, which include competitors and potential agents.
Figure 1: Derby avenue area in Accra, with outlets, branches, and agents show. Agent details are shown for one of the agents.
The mapping tool answered the following important questions to inform the roll-out:
- Where are the existing branches and agents? Where are the competitors?
- How many agents were within 3 km from a given branch?
- What are the survey areas? (where are they, what are the boundaries?)
- Which branches, agents, and outlets are in the survey areas?
- What kinds of outlets are in areas where our target market is located (type of businesses)?
- What is the density of the existing and target market in any given location in Ghana?
- Where are the customers that were surveyed? Which were unbanked, under-banked, and banked?
Figure 2: Kumasi area in Ashanti, showing details (including a photo) for one of the surveyed outlets.
In the above plots, the customer’s category is reflected in the color of the small circle for the customer. The large blue icons represent agents, and the large orange icons represent branches. The dark blue pins represent surveyed outlets.
Having ready access to this information allowed the bank to better plan their agent recruitment efforts to have agents in the best locations for reaching the unbanked and under-banked. For example, the bank can be sure that during the initial roll-out it will not have too many agents near the same branch, so that the branch is not overwhelmed with having to support too many agents. Also, the bank can make sure it has agents in areas of high density of their existing and target market.
DFS providers are undertaking initiatives to reach the unbanked and under-banked with products to promote responsible financial services. These initiatives can be better informed by an interactive, well-designed picture of where relevant entities are located, along with important information about them. Customized mapping tools provide DFS providers with the information necessary to reach those who would benefit most from responsible finance products.
This post was authored by Shafique Jamal, IFC-Mastercard Foundation Partnership for Financial Inclusion, for the Responsible Finance Forum Blog September, 2018. Additional case-studies on how data analytics can be used to advance the adoption and use of DFS are presented in the Data Analytics and Digital Financial Services Handbook (June, 2017).