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HomeWomen FinancialIn Dialog with Wema Financial institution’s Adekunle Alarapon: In a Digitally Dominant...

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 obligations 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, industrial, 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 Business 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 focus on how these options ought to meet ladies prospects the place they’re at of their monetary journeys to be actually efficient.

Q: The fast transformation towards digital monetary options could also be abandoning low-income ladies who wouldn’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 approach each women and men entry the web in low- and middle-income nations): As of 2021, they reported ladies in Sub-Saharan African nations had been much less seemingly than males to personal a cell phone and fewer seemingly to make use of cellular web once they did personal a cellphone by 37% in each situations—leaving 192 million ladies on this area with out cellular web. How can monetary companies suppliers (FSPs) deal with points in entry to make sure that they’re nonetheless in a position to attain and have interaction all ladies prospects? Do bodily touchpoints play a component?

The monetary inclusion panorama in Nigeria and in most of Sub-Saharan Africa remains to be closely depending on bodily person-to-person (P2P) interplay. Therefore, a profitable components can be the institution of what Wema Financial institution calls “Phygital” facilities—our self-service in-branch platform that mixes the perfect 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, referred to as ALAT HUB, are geared up with digital units that provide prospects extra alternative for a way they like to financial institution, enabling ladies who could also be skeptical of solely digital capabilities to get pleasure from essential monetary companies, 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. This can be a artistic approach of delivering these companies through a digital channel that’s in a extra acquainted setting.

Q: Say there’s a monetary establishment that has a digital resolution with nice potential to drive monetary inclusion for last-mile ladies prospects, however they don’t have any bodily touchpoints embedded within the resolution course of. Would you anticipate this product to come across any challenges?

To be sincere, I see some disadvantages within the means of such merchandise to scale quick exterior of city areas within the speedy 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 take into account the social-cultural behaviors and monetary wants of the typical African lady to make sure scalability from city to suburban areas, and finally to rural prospects.

Q: For a lot of low-income ladies prospects, participating frequently with monetary establishments and their choices will be intimidating, and basic monetary literacy applications might show overwhelming. How can FSPs leverage each in-person and digital options to offer focused functionality constructing—so ladies get solely the data they want, proper once 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 will be launched utilizing a trusted beneficiary/product-user as a reference level. This may be completed by making a small group of ladies “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 prospects’ confidence and belief—and these advantages could also be misplaced when such moments are solely performed digitally. Girls’s World Banking analysis exhibits that sure bodily touchpoints, like working with ladies banking brokers, will help construct belief with ladies prospects and the monetary system. How can FSPs leverage these in-person experiences to encourage the transition to utilizing digital options as nicely?

The usage of ladies banking brokers has turn out to be one of the vital magical strategies for participating low-income ladies in monetary services. FSPs ought to develop frameworks that entice 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 ladies brokers. Girls brokers are then inspired to succeed in out to ladies inside their communities and educate them methods to use digital units throughout neighborhood conferences and social events.

Q: In lots of rising economies, it is sensible to keep up bodily touchpoints and extra conventional options that ladies prospects are sometimes extra accustomed to. Nevertheless, we all know that digital options can usually cut back entry boundaries for low-income ladies and cut 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 approach that delivered a tailor-made buyer expertise, relatively than creating two parallel choices (in-person vs. digital)?

Wema Financial institution, at the side of Girls’s World Banking and the Invoice & Melinda Gates Basis, designed a micro-savings pockets for low-income ladies, referred to as NAIRA ASIDE. The product allows ladies to avoid wasting between $1 and $20 (in Naira equivalence) every day by means 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 means of with this every 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 might unlock US$330 billion in annual international income. Are you able to spotlight a number of the enterprise advantages for FSPs once they ship holistic monetary options (bodily and digital resolution parts) that present ladies prospects with the “better of each worlds”?

There are enormous advantages opened for FSPs once they ship holistic monetary options that present ladies prospects entry to monetary companies. These embrace however will not be restricted to alternatives for worldwide collaboration with different like-minded establishments; micro and macroeconomic growth for the FSP; and affiliation with governmental and non-governmental establishments.

Q: How does the pliability supplied by holistic monetary options—with digital and bodily parts—finally help ladies’s financial empowerment?

Girls’s financial empowerment is supported by means of monetary options which can be intentionally designed with ladies in thoughts. These provide versatile engagement and allow a straightforward walkthrough of the person journey that makes digital entry enjoyable and attention-grabbing, relatively than a compelling monetary proposition. Human beings react to adjustments in numerous methods and it’s usually harder to simply adapt to new strategies the older we turn out to be. Therefore, digital monetary options should be supplied in enjoyable and attention-grabbing methods as early as attainable that endear curiosity amongst ladies prospects particularly through the use of the acquainted comfortable mechanisms of constructing mutual belief, relationship, security and reassurances.

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

Study 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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