According to the 2018 FinScope survey, 78% of Ugandans are financially included; however, just 22% use formal financial services (banks, SACCOs, MFIs, Mobile money etc.). Financial exclusion is higher in rural areas than in urban areas (25% vs 14%). While 54% of Ugandans save regularly, only 13% of Ugandan adults save with a formal financial institution; 46% do not save at all. Rural adults and women are significantly more likely to rely on informal saving mechanisms. Financial sector has a lot to do to reach out to the low-income savers.
According to the World Bank, there are only 2.7 commercial bank branches per 100,000 people. The lack of accessibility to banks / formal financial institutions, high account maintenance fees and lack of appropriate products for the low-income segments have been deterrents for these segments to mobilize and use savings offered by financial institutions.
With SCBF intervention and support from PHB Consultants and WSBI (Scale2Save initiative), FINCA Uganda worked on developing a business case for low-balance savings mobilization and usage for low-income savers in Uganda. It leveraged digital technology to make its savings products more relevant, accessible and affordable for the poor. FINCA Uganda launched a Mobile banking platform, available through USSD as well as a dedicated Smartphone app, allowing its existing customers to perform a myriad of transactions from the convenience of their mobile device. The project also included the deployment and activation of Digital Field Automation (DFA), which allows customers to open accounts remotely.
On 13 April 2023, SCBF, in collaboration with FINCA Uganda, PHB Consultants and WSBI organised a webinar that aimed to understand the learnings and insights gathered from this project in Uganda. Some of the key areas covered in the webinar discussions were:
- Overview of the project in Uganda and its strategic role in expanding financial inclusion.
- Understanding and usage of right distribution channels / partners to facilitate regular transactions.
- Lessons learnt and insights gained from their mobile banking product (FINCA Ku-Simu) and Digital Field Automation project.
- James Onyutta, Managing Director, FINCA Uganda
- Apphia Ndungu, Programme Manager, Scale2Save, East Africa
- Ciprian Panturu, Digital Catalyzer, PHB Consultants
- Alice Lubwama, Business Development Officer, FINCA Uganda
- Michael Mbusa, Head of Innovation and Product Development, FINCA Uganda
- Yekbun Gurgoz, Learning and Insights Manager, SCBF