Bower & Partners was founded on the realization that a non-partisan player with substantial hands-on experience is necessary to successfully steer ecosystem development among a diverse set of players. Furthermore, expert support is necessary to guide the hands-on deployment of a national service to ensure success at achieving scale and profitability.
Our goal is to develop a functioning methodology that dependably delivers an a path to achieving a meaningful, measurable environment and that benefits all participants.
PAKISTAN DFS MOBILE ASSAN SCHEME
Case Study #1
Pakistan is well regarded as leader in the digital financial services space. Since the initial offering of branchless banking services entered the market in 2009, almost 17 million accounts have been opened and tens of millions of transactions have been successfully performed. Where most markets in the world struggle to gain initial levels of adoption, Pakistan seems to stand out as an example where the use of DFS through the branchless banking business model has cemented itself as part of the transactional lives of a growing number of Pakistanis.
Digging deeper reveals structural challenges inherent to the Branchless Banking business model. While transactions are increasing and accounts are being opened, the digital payments ecosystem is not developing as expected. Existing programs often remain limited to telco networks. Transactional behaviour remains heavily biased towards agent assisted transactions, otherwise known as over-the-counter transactions or OTC. Competition over control of agents has led to heavy incentives to promote specific businesses. Customers have not yet migrated to full use of digital financial services products since existing operators have not been able to profitably launch alternate use cases able to change customer behaviour.
Bower & Partners is providing strategic guidance, on behalf of the World Bank, to the State Bank of Pakistan to design and develop a national digital financial inclusion scheme that will increase the use of digital payments nationwide.
Case Study #2
Modelo Perú is the world’s first attempt to enable a fully interoperable national mobile payments system with a specific focus on financial inclusion. It is the informal name of the partnership formed by the country’s financial institutions, government, telecommunications companies, and large payers and payees, to cooperate on constructing a shared infrastructure for mobile payments. Impressively, over thirty financial institutions have agreed to collaborate together in this initiative and are working along with the four major telecommunications companies.
Rather than focusing on the strengths of technology, Modelo Perú sees the partnership between the entities as the key to success. It is the strength of this partnership that will enable a solution to be built that has a fair chance of competing with cash. However, technology and partnerships are only part of the challenge. Users of the service will need to understand and adopt the product to achieve financial inclusion.
Bower & Partners supported the initial design of the initiative, and then designed market entry and product definition strategies of the company behind launching the platform. We are currently engaged to manage partnership opportunity development and provide strategic guidance.
TCHOTCHO MOBILE HAITI
Case Study #3
In the spring of 2010, thanks to the earthquake, the Haitian economy had come to a standstill. Most of the population had no way to access money or move it around, a huge problem for a society that relied heavily on foreign remittances and person-to-person transfers. As it turned out, Bower and Partners, working with Scotiabank International, was in the right place at the right time to deliver a solution.
When the bank was approached by one of their major Caribbean partners, the Jamaica-based telecom company Digicel, to participate in the development of a mobile payment system in Haiti, the bank saw the project as a compelling opportunity to build economic and business value in a way that would also create value for society. They took up the challenge.
The collaboration between the telecom company and the bank, a key partner required by Haitian government regulations, was an unlikely mix of corporate cultures. The partnership’s imperative was to rush to market, spurred by the goal of winning a $10 million incentive fund offered by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
The TchoTcho Mobile project earned international acclaim for its contribution to financial inclusion and economic development. “In Haiti, one of the poorest places on the planet, phones have revolutionized the average person’s access to financial opportunity,” former U.S. President Bill Clinton wrote in the October 1, 2012 issue of Time Magazine.
Bower & Partners worked with Scotiabank in the design of the product, and developed the back end processes for integration between the bank and the technical platform.