We apply certain principles to guide our work:
We emphasize the “life” side of the low income person’s financial reality
Financial Diaries and other research shed light on the fact that low income people have financial lives that are fully entangled with their income generation strategies and social networks. There has been considerable success in providing access to financial services for low income people but this has done little to transform the reality of their lives.
Addressing the broad set of challenges that low income people face therefore requires offering an integrated set of solutions that combine finance, user-centered design, information, policy and technology. As we’ve also increasingly learned, money matters are no more appealing to deal with for the low income than they are for the wealthy. They have an equal, if not greater, desire for their financial issues to disappear so they can focus on their goals of living.
We create solutions by working with both financial and non-financial partners
If we were to focus only on financial institutions, we would miss the bulk of “touchpoints” that low income people know and trust. Less than 50% of all inflows and outflows of consumers are financial flows-–the majority of cash flows are income and expenditure. This means we are missing opportunities to reach consumers by focusing only on the financial flows. Instead, we seek to work with service points–existing products and institutions in low income communities.
We look to broaden ecosystem policies
Enabling an integrated ecosystem is critical for creating the types of financial solutions that will help low income people improve their lives. This means for example, that we help policymakers design and roll out unique identification systems to enable financial services and social programs to make a difference. It also means we support regulators to design technology to appropriately oversee new types of financial service players. And, it means working with service providers to create and promote public APIs that will grow a more integrated ecosystem.
We design and execute experimentation and evaluation to provide rapid learning
By helping partners to gather leaner consumer-level data, we can provide rapid feedback to the providers we work with and also speed up the learning process within our client and stakeholder communities. Both social science methods and technology have evolved to enable these methods, making the learning as nimble as the design and execution.