Bankable Frontier Associates To Test New Ways Of Linking Poor People To Financial Services In Africa

The FIBR project, supported by The MasterCard Foundation, will harness smartphone data to connect underserved customers to financial services

BOSTON, Feb. 25, 2016 /PRNewswire — Bankable Frontier Associates (BFA), in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation, today launched FIBR (Financial Inclusion on Business Runways), a multi-million dollar, four-year project in Ghana and Tanzania to demonstrate how to better connect poor people to financial services by capturing and digitizing the data of business transactions in the informal economy.

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By 2020, smartphone ownership is projected to rise from about 18% to over 50% in Africa, generating large amounts of new customer data. Thus, FIBR sets out to support technology, business and financial partners that can use this data to design and develop new ways to make savings, credit and insurance products available to underserved customers.

“FIBR is exploring different types of relationships, or links, between financial service providers and poor customers,” said David Porteous, CEO of BFA.  “The smartphone now makes it possible to propose new and more targeted solutions by a new range of players. How this happens and what will succeed is largely untested but it will be a transformative contribution to the financial services sector and how the poor better manage their money.”

FIBR further broaches new territory by:

  • Experimenting with predictive algorithms on this data so financial service providers can make better decisions about potential customers in underserved markets, and
  • Cultivating an active learning agenda that is supported with practical examples, and sharing insights with the broader financial inclusion field.

Two billion people worldwide lack access to regulated financial services yet the traditional way financial institutions cater to underserved customers is limited, resulting in low adoption and usage of services. Experimenting with the data from a poor person’s interactions with businesses as an employee, customer or supplier, and using it as a financial track record, opens up new possibilities in what a bank can offer, fund or underwrite.

“These business-based relationships, such as a shopkeeper extending customer credit, an employer setting aside savings for employees or a club providing micro-insurance to its members represent an untapped, indirect source of financial data about a person,” said Mark Wensley, Senior Program Manager, Financial Inclusion at The MasterCard Foundation. “With this data, banks and microfinance institutions, even mobile network operators, can offer a wide range of new financial services to poor customers whom they currently cannot serve directly.”

At the official project launch in Accra, Ghana, on February 25, BFA announced that several local organizations were already engaged in pre-qualifying projects for FIBR. By June 2016, the first selection of partners is scheduled to go through the program.

For more information about FIBR, please visit:

BFA (Bankable Frontier Associates) is a global consulting firm specializing in the development of financial services for low-income people around the world. Our approach is to seek out, create and implement solutions to the challenges faced by low-income people in managing the financial matters that underpin their lives.  We purposefully partner with cutting-edge financial and nonfinancial institutions that touch the lives of low-income customers. In creating solutions, we integrate our deep expertise in customer insights, business strategy, new technology and growth-enabling policy & regulation. Founded in 2006, our clients include donors, investors, financial institutions, policymakers, insurers and payment service providers. BFA has offices in Boston, New York and Nairobi. For more information, please visit:

The MasterCard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Africa. As one of the largest, independent foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion in order to alleviate poverty. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by MasterCard when the Foundation was created in 2006. For more information, please visit or follow us on Twitter @MCFoundation

Media Contact:

Jane Del Ser
Communications Manager
+34 608 375 760

Roger Morier
Senior Manager, Communications
The MasterCard Foundation
+1 647 837 5290

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