Flash from the Past: business case of digital financial services

Whow, I remember the times so clearly before having been hijacked by the European Investment Bank. I was an independent consultant hired by one of the consultancies contracted by the IFC to develop the business case on digital financial services (DFS) with 5 (the final study was done on 9) microfinance service providers. We were visiting institutions in DRC, Madagascar, Senegal, etc to learn about their…



  1. strategic objectives of implementing DFS
  2. the planning and implementation process;
  3. internal change management;
  4. the impact on business growth and sustainability
  5. determinants of scale, outreach and adoption of such services.

The excel sheet which served to capture the process at each institution was miles long and I seriously had to improve my excel skills to be able to keep up with the complexity of it.

Unfortunately I left the project in 2015 and moved on to the European Investment Bank.

The results of the longitudinal study conducted are now available in the report “Aligning expectations: The Business Case for Digital Financial Services“. I must admit I am not surprised and the results are very much in line with what was to be expected, e.g.,

“registrations do not translate into customer activity” –> really? not sure who expected a previously unbanked person to immediately understand the value proposition of an e-wallet or feeling comfortable withdrawing in small amounts rather than one large amount per month.

“agent recruitment and activity targets deserve more attention” –> exactly! Who would have thought a previous shop owner in a rural area can turn into a stellar bank client advisor in a day?

“higher-than-expected agent management fees coupled with lower-than-expected transaction volume”–> whow! the shop owner dedicates time and effort to process financial transactions on behalf of others, ie., he/she is not available to serve hi/her own customers. Plus he/she will have to leave his/her shop to visit and deposit excess funds at the branch. Yes, being a banking agent increases the foot traffic into your supermarket, but it seems not sufficiently that you would process the transactions for free.

These are just  a few results of the report which recently came out. Unfortunately I had not been able to complete the journey on this research.


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