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Learning brief: savings products for low income customers

Can these be provided sustainably and at scale? Read this learning brief to find out how some financial service providers are answering this as part of two programmes supported by the Mastercard Foundation in sub-Saharan Africa.

Providing financial services to low-income customers at scale and in a viable manner has long been a quest for financial inclusion stakeholders.

With the exception of loan products, there has been limited practical evidence on the business case for products – such as savings, insurance, and payments – targeting low-income customers.

This brief is targeted at financial inclusion practitioners, donors and investors who are interested in designing commercially sustainable approaches and solutions for savings and other financial products for low-income customers.

About this brief

This brief describes strategies adopted by a broad range of financial service providers (FSPs) to sustainably serve savings group members and other low-income savers.

It synthesises learning based on data collected by regional FSPs and published by two programmes supported by the Mastercard Foundation as part of the Savings Learning Lab since 2015.

  1. Savings at the Frontier (SatF) aimed to develop innovative financial services for informal savings mechanisms (ISMs). It was designed as an adaptive programme to test support innovation and test whether and how formal FSPs can serve ISMs and their users with a triple-win business model.
  2. Scale2Save, focused on establishing the viability of low-balance savings accounts and the use of customer-centric approaches to address barriers faced in access to, usage of and affordability of savings accounts.

The collection of data was essential to these programs’ ability to track costs and revenues, and both dedicated significant efforts to ensuring their accuracy and timeliness.

This included budget monitoring data and business case data such as detailed tracking of costs and revenues associated with the products developed during the program.

This data gave Scale2Save and SatF a real-time representation of project performance and enabled them to have proactive communication with FSPs, which created a genuine sense of partnership and informed adaptation.

Learn more about the Savings Learning Lab.

Download this learning brief: Savings products for low income countries