There are more people with phones than with bank accounts. The Financial sector has now realized that they can use these mobile phones as tools for Digital Financial Inclusion. This provides a great solution for the underbanked or unbanked.

According to QZ, the 2017 Global Findex database indicates that access to formal financial services in Ghana rose from 41% of adults in 2014 to 58% in 2017. 

The benefits of digital financial inclusion for the financially excluded and underserved are among others:

1.    Access to formal financial services – payments, transfers, savings, credit, insurance, securities, etc. 

2.    Typically lower costs of digital transactional platforms — both to the provider and thereby the customer.

3.    Additional financial services tailored to customers’ needs and financial circumstances are made possible by the payment, transfer, and value storage services embedded in the digital transaction platform itself, and the data generated within it, as well as the reduced costs associated with transacting in cash and using informal providers

4.    Reduced risks of loss, theft, and other financial crimes posed by cash-based transactions.

5.    Promotion of economic empowerment by enabling asset accumulation and, for women in particular, increasing their economic participation.

Many Banks today, boast of a mobile app to allow the offering of banking services via mobile phone. Various apps also exist, allowing payments for services to be done via mobile. So, without a doubt, financial inclusion has been made easier and better. 

However, better does not always mean trusted. Therefore, despite this availability of innovative solutions to financial inclusion, there remains a high number of the population underbanked or unbanked.

Various financial institutions and societies have taken steps toward financial inclusion, but to be successful, they need to understand how to accurately target and market to their potential customers.

Traditionally, Financial Institutions are known to be conservative in their marketing approaches. In the same breadth, customers have looked at Financial Institutions with fear and mistrust; with a notion at the back of their minds that these institutions act only for themselves.

To address this disconnect between the solutions and the user, below are some of the approaches that these institutions can put in place to enhance inclusion.

Experiential Engagements 

For a long time, experiential marketing has been left to FMCG and Electronic companies but there is a wide opportunity for financial institutions to meet the customer where they are. Events, where there are a relaxed ambience and people, are more likely to listen to what a brand ambassador would have to say. Lectures and seminars where people are seeking improved ways of managing their finances and increasing wealth. Youth meetings where young people are looking for ways to make a positive impact on society while improving themselves.

Highly effective digitized customer service 

Investing in a great technical team for this should be a priority. We all remember that instance where we wanted to shout at our computer or throw away our phone. That critical juncture when you needed to submit a payment, a form or an instruction and then the system failed. We even experience it in banks when after waiting for hours in a queue, we get to the teller and they say… ”sorry the system is down”.

There is no longer room for systems to fail. Customers need seamless interaction with digital financial systems in order for you to gain and maintain their trust. Transactions that keep hanging cause great anxiety to clients not sure whether their payments were complete or their cash is hanging somewhere in digital Limbo. Part of marketing is delivering an unmatched experience with the brand. When customers engage with your brand in the digital space, they should be nothing less than wowed – that all their apprehension was way-laid and all their needs were met sooner than expected. 

Social Media visibility and engagement 

It is no longer enough to have a Facebook page and shiny graphics. Clients are scattered among a plethora of platforms. Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and many more. You must be visibly engaged. Brands are expected to have a life, have a personality, have an opinion. Financial institutions not excluded. It is now vital to create and fill the position of a Social Media Manager. Those who cannot hire internally can engage a Social Media Consultant.

These people must work day and night to communicate: the institutions’ inclusion products, how to use them, ease of use, customer experiences, as well as answer any questions that may arise. The more people see you, the more they become comfortable, the more they are convinced to try you and (upon successful customer experience) the more they trust you.  

Some brands run one successful campaign and then go quiet after that. Out of sight, out of mind. Whatever the case, there must always be something you are saying to your customers. Ensure you put a budget to it that is sufficient as it is sustainable.

For financial inclusion to work, institutions must win trust. Trust is hard-earned over continuous engagement. This engagement is achieved through marketing strategies implemented consistently. Without this marketing bridge between the cutting-edge solutions and the customer, efforts to pull those unbanked and underbanked into the new-age will remain at best – ineffectual.