By Ronald Owili
Innovators and financial service providers have been urged to understand the needs of their customers so as to sustainably expand digital financial services beyond the basic services of money transfer, savings and micro-credit.
Central Bank of Kenya Governor Dr. Patrick Njoroge says services centered on the use of technology should be affordable to low income earners as well as vulnerable groups as the country strives to expand financial inclusion.
Financial service providers in the country have been coming up with various innovations in a bid to reach more customers as well as improve convenience including services offered via the mobile phone.
Dr. Njoroge says innovations in the financial services sector offer immense possibilities for achieving inclusive economic growth, sustainable development and poverty reduction.
He however notes that such innovations should be tailor made to the needs of customers to ensure they are affordable and offer a wide range of solutions.
He says, “It is important that innovators and financial service providers listen and understand the concerns of their prospective customers. This will generate a wider range of appropriately designed financial products, based on customers’ diverse needs and characteristics.”
Innovators have also been urged to deal with the risks arising from financial services including cyber crime and data piracy.
Dr. Njoroge reckons that building a sound consumer and data protection framework with evolving capabilities is essential.
The CBK boss has however expressed concern over the minimal extension of financial services to Small and Medium Enterprises saying financial institution should consider being more supportive to SMEs as they contribute significantly to the GDP.
Dr. Njoroge was speaking at the Dutch Development Bank conference whose theme is ‘Future of Finance’ where he commended the role of mobile money technology in Kenya which he says has transformed the society and enabled financial inclusion that currently stands at 89 percent.
About 41 percent users of financial services in Kenya are women. However, 99 percent of women users are active users compared to 77 percent active male users.
Similarly, women account for 58 percent of all transactions in Kenya and 51 percent of transaction value. In addition, women account for 82 percent of total savings.