Designing financial products for rural India to increase adoption of formal channels of financial aid provided by banks under the Financial inclusion scheme.
Purva | Sneha |
Malika | Amey
Security solutions provider in India
Almost 40% of the rural population is un-banked and underserved financially.
Reserve Bank of India steers the Financial Inclusion initiative in order to bring this segment into the financial pool of our country using banks as a channel.
India has 68.84% rural population
35-40% of which is un-banked
and under-served financially*
*as of 2013.
To make rural banking viable through increased inclusivity.
Since banks were the largest customer for the company I worked for, we embarked on a research journey to understand how rural economy functions and design solutions that would equip our customers (banks) to have a significant impact by increasing inclusivity of rural economy.
Opportunity areas that could be tapped into by player from industries allied to finance. Example, various Project research presented food industry, government organizations, occupation, literacy, technology etc.
The scope of the project was hence expanded by utilized the additional information to create a report/document that can be referred to by different business to tap into the rural market.
Strategic partnerships | Product design proposals
Interactions and interviews
Sharing concepts with banks
making changes based on feedback
User Journey maps
Mobile banking via a Business Correspondent
was the strategy deployed by banks to extend their reach towards the rural population.
Secondary research led to an understanding of how banks and other government organizations implemented the Financial Inclusion model across the country. This enabled us to map out the banking ecosystem.
Banking ecosystem before implementation of Financial Inclusion model.
Banking ecosystem after implementation of Financial Inclusion Model in order to provide banking facility to the rural population.
Ethnographic design research was conducted in 8 villages across the country.
Villages were selected based on parameters like population, main occupation, proximity to a city, the presence of a bank and presence of a manufacturing unit nearby to obtain diverse viewpoints. Key stakeholders and local systems were identified to aid the design of on-field discussion guides.
PRIMARY RESEARCH METHODOLOGIES
Immersive interviews, shadowing, card sorting, photo journaling etc. were used to understand the mental model and behavior patterns around managing finance.
We stayed in each of the 8 villages for about a week to conduct immersive interviews, shadowing key stakeholders, participating in their festivities and studying behavior patterns around financial management.
Interviews, cultural probes and research methodologies used
Rural landscape - homemade product sellers, small business, schools, fishermen
Business correspondents in action
Technology adoption and festival celebrations
Methods like affinity mapping, personas and
value-webs were used to analyze the data collected.
Seasonal nature of monetary inflow results in villagers relying on parallel and informal means of money lending through loan sharks leading to a state of constant debt
The unpredictable cycle of monetary inflow and outflow in addition to its varied sources makes it difficult for the rural population to meet the requirement of the current savings account and utilize its benefits
Children education and securing the lives of their loved ones is a strong motivation for the rural population to save and make
To secure their lives from the hardships and unpredictable nature of seasonal occupation villagers look for a more stable source of income through vocational jobs leading to a decline in agriculture practice raising concerns regarding food security
Products offered by banks need to be in sync with the inflow and outflow of cash cycles that exist in seasonal occupations like agriculture, fishing, pottery etc. to make them viable for the rural population
Increasing the security and convince associated with being a business correspondent can motivate the BC's to perform better and achieve viable targets increasing bank reach.
A detailed report of the research, analysis, and opportunity areas crafted and shared with allied business operating within the brand.
Design workshops were conducted with different business to onboard them to the data collected and guide its usage.
Opportunity scope for parallel industries to work on
How might we
secure the finances of seasonal income bearers?
How might we build food security through the preservation of agriculture ?
How might we build security for a changing future ?
The opportunity areas identified to increase banks penetration within the rural ecosystem were address by creating a product and policy change proposal
Opportunity scope for the banking sector
How might we enable our customer (banks) to serve rural India profitably
Inculcating a savings mindset
Agriculture is the source of income for a majority of the rural population. The nature of which does not enable a surplus of large amounts of money to be saved. In addition, seasonal occupations need a regular inflow of money to keep the business running. Since saving is minimal the community is forced to live off credits.
Existing monetary inflow -outflow cycle leading to families being in debt to local money lenders across generations
Gullak (piggy bank) Account
1. Providing Gullak
Banks provide a 'Gullak' piggy bank to each family.
2. Setting Goals
The family attaches certain goals to this account.
3. Assigning custodians
A responsible family member would be assigned the role of a custodian who would be authorized to withdraw money from the piggy bank in case of emergency.
5. Visualizing money saved
When money is added the money holder physically expands and helps the family visualize them moving a step closer towards their goal.
4. Start saving
Family members start saving a small amount to it as and when possible.
6. Transferring money to banks
When the amount reaches a certain level or at the end of every month, a business correspondent official collects the piggy bank.
7. Transferring money to banks
The money is then deposited to the families bank account.
Direct access to their money throughout the year.
Earning monthly interest on the amount saved in the bank account.
Inculcating the habit of saving extra money by attaching a personal or occupational goal to the account, like buying seeds for harvest season, painting their house for a festival, saving money for kids education etc.
Access to flexible loans
Current bank loan policies are designed for urban consumers requirements which is a complete departure from fiscal requirements for rural communities. The need is to restructure loan policies to better suit requirements like the need for small amounts and flexible payback.
Tailored loan account policy
1. Providing Loan
Banks provide short-term loans at an extremely low interest rate via loan account policy.
2. Cash Inflow
During harvest season, the villager earns money on selling produce
4. Maintaining accounts
The interest amount can be paid when there is a substantial inflow of money to the villager during harvest season or can be deducted from the next loan amount itself.
3. Cash Inflow
Postharvest season, the villager has to return the amount (basic) to receive the next installment.
Functioning based on credit economy with benefits of a savings account
Increase adoption benefits the bank.
Villagers need not keep searching for different informal modes to access funds.
Security and recognition for Business Correspondents
The business correspondents traveling to remote locations as bank representatives are neither armed or well equipped to transfer large amounts of money, putting both human life and valuables at high risk.
The secure box is designed to hold and protect the essentials required to conduct banking transactions. It would be a co-branded, trackable, solar-powered device that would not just secure cash, equipment and documents stored within but also give a sense of authority to the business correspondent.
Security and recognition
VALIDATION AND TESTING
The concept and ideas were shared with leading banks in India. Each concept was tested with various stakeholders within the bank and rural ecosystem. The solutions were revised before deploying a pilot launch. Revised designs can not be shared due to confidentiality reasons.
I learned how to expand/ redefine the scope of a project.
Also learned how to maintain and comprehend large-scale data over course of months and maintain the pace of the project by building strong checkpoints in process guides.
P - Dexa
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