MasterCard has announced a collaboration with Grameen Foundation on AppLab Money, an initiative that is designed to create mobile financial services products for the unbanked and under-banked in Kenya.
Grameen Foundation will work with Jamii Bora Bank to research, design and test products that will be delivered through Jamii Bora’s extensive operations across the country.
The collaboration was born out of the need to deepen the reach of financial products to low income communities across Kenya. Leveraging the vast penetration of the mobile phone, AppLab Money Kenya aims to take appropriate mobile financial services to the communities that are most in need of them.
Commenting on the alliance, James Wainaina, Vice-President and Area Business Head, MasterCard East Africa said: “Today around 2.5 billion people – or roughly half of the world’s adult population – lack access to credit, insurance, savings accounts, and other formal financial services. Our vision for Africa is to see cashless transactions bridge the gap for the financially disenfranchised. Our work with partners such as Grameen Foundation and Jamii Bora, with whom we share a common vision to extend financial services to the unbanked and under-banked in Kenya, will help us achieve that.”
Grameen Foundation works globally to create and scale financial products with the poor, through partnerships with financial institutions, telecom operators and payment technology firms.
Erin Connor, Kenya Country Director, Grameen Foundation commented further: “Our aim is to demonstrate how appropriately designed financial products can improve the lives and livelihoods of the poor by reducing risk, improving financial security and increasing income. We are pleased to be working with institutions such as MasterCard and Jamii Bora that are already working across all levels of the consumer value chain to deliver inclusive financial products and services.”
The aim of this collaboration is for many low income communities in the country to have deepened access to innovative financial products that can get to them right where they are. According to the 2013 FINACCESS National Survey, 76% of the rural population can access a mobile money agent as the nearest financial service provider. In rural areas it takes less time on average for an individual to get to a mobile money agent than to a bank branch or bank agent.
Samuel Kimani, Chief Executive Officer, Jamii Bora Bank commented: “Our main focus is on leveraging technology to enable our customers and all our stakeholders to have access to a truly robust financial service that will enhance and transform their lifestyles anywhere, anytime and enable them to do anything. We expect that this will significantly reduce the cost of access to financial services and enable us to bring relevant financial services to Kenya and the rest of the region.”
AppLab Money Kenya is funded by MasterCard and philanthropists Craig and Susan McCaw through the “Craig and Susan McCaw Technology for Development Challenge.” The McCaw challenge grant supports initiatives that help to push the frontiers of mobile technology in developing the next generation of financial products designed to help the poor.
AppLab Money Kenya is part of an innovative approach that focuses on developing, testing and scaling the next generation of breakthrough products and services tailored to meet the financial needs of the poor. This involves combining technology-enabled innovation derived by engaging designers, researchers and commercial analysts to help various partners understand the needs of the poor, enabling the development of relevant, scalable solutions. Grameen Foundation operates a similar initiative in Uganda and plans to extend the AppLab Money model to other parts of Sub-Saharan Africa.