Driving digital financial services with behavioural science

Driving digital financial services with behavioural science

December 14, 2020    

After conducting a systematic review of how behavioural science can be used to drive financial inclusion, our team was inspired to continue our efforts in the field.

We provided training on the behavioural design process, assisted companies with consumer research and user experience design and conducted an end-to-end behavioural design project.

A recent behavioural design project was with People’s Pension Trust (PPT), a pension provider who focuses on the informal market, a typically difficult target market to reach. As with many other financial service providers in Africa, PPT has been struggling to shift their customers from making in-person, cash contributions to digitally facilitated payments towards their pensions.

Our work included three experiments, testing several ways to encourage existing customers to sign up for digital contribution payments, facilitated through their mobile money wallets, and to ensure that they consistently have sufficient funds in their wallets.

Our experience in conducting this project resulted in four key lessons on using behavioural science for improving financial inclusion:

  • Little things can make a big difference: One of our experiments used simple visualisations and framing to illustrate the benefits of digital payments to customers and the results were astounding – signup for customers exposed to the intervention increased by 200% over the course of the experiment.
  • Testing is important: One of our experiments used video testimonials to increase draw on social norms and authority bias to increase uptake. Video testimonials, as well as the two biases that ours were based on, are well-studied and have frequently had positive impacts on similar problems. In this experiment, they had no positive effect at all. In fact, we hypothesize that the testimonials may have placed additional strain on customers. These results highlight why testing interventions is so important – because context matters and what works in one context may not work in others.
  • Behavioural science is not a silver bullet: 25% of the customers that were interested in signing up for these digital contributions were not able to complete it due to structural barriers, such as network connectivity issues. While behavioural science can make a big impact in many areas, structural barriers cannot be overcome with behavioural interventions.
  • The importance of measuring the right thing: in one of our experiments, our intervention focused on encouraging customers to make consistent contributions. We found that those who were exposed to this intervention committed to contributing less on a monthly basis than those who did not. However, they contributed more frequently, resulting in higher predicted lifetime contributions. While it’s tempting to focus on increasing the amount that individuals contribute, making sure that it is feasible for customers is much more important.
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If you’d like to find out about this project and the experiments that we conducted, feel free to contact us.

insight2impact (i2ifacility) was funded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in partnership with Mastercard FoundationThe programme was established and driven by Cenfri and Finmark Trust.

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