Mobile financial services in developing markets boom

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To reach $500 billion transactions by 202, providing financial inclusion for one billion people in developing markets

The total transaction value of mobile financial services in emerging markets, including domestic money transfers, deposits on loans, insurance products, and savings accounts, will approach $500 billion in 2021, up from an estimated $198 billion this year, a new report has shown.

Juniper Research latest study into the area argued that by introducing insurance offerings, operators had the opportunity to substantially reduce churn levels. It cited the example of Telenor Suraksha life insurance scheme in India, which has seen nearly 50% of its 45 million user base sign up since its December 2015 launch.

According to research author Lauren Foye: “The model underpinning the Surakhsa scheme – requiring consumers to top up airtime on a monthly basis to receive the insurance cover – should be widely replicated. It enables operators to maintain average revenue levels within low income, low ARPU prepaid environments and allows consumers to reap the benefits of micro insurance cover.”

However, the research cautioned that a key challenge would be tailoring financial service products to the needs of individual markets. It cited the case of several early implementations of mobile financial services in markets such as India, the Philippines and Nigeria achieving limited adoption where products were often ill-suited to their target audience.

Nevertheless, the research highlighted Asia-Pacific as a region which, while currently under-served due in part to the complexity of national regulations, has strong potential for future product launches.

Whilst restrictions have been in place previously, largely due to cultural beliefs, Juniper found that attitudes are changing in under-served regions, with Indonesia acquiring its first ever microloans product Kashmi in 2017. Additionally, specialised products have been launched to address religious requirements, such as Achuwat in Pakistan which provides interest free loans to meet Sharia requirements.

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