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Warm Customer Engagement for Digital Financial Services

Emilia, Bancolombia’s Financial Advice Chatbot Inspired by Juntos

October 4, 2017

Posted by Caroline Gutman

In a recent article published by Bancolombia, the bank highlights our partnership to offer warm, informative, and personalized conversations to Ahorro a la Mano customers. Mauricio Múnera, Director of Financial Inclusion at Bancolombia remarked, “Juntos is a pioneering endeavor,” commenting that the platform has been able to adapt to the individuals it serves.

Read the full article here.

En el artículo titulado “Emilia, la robot que ofrece consejos financieros a los clientes de Ahorro a la Mano”, Bancolombia resalta el trabajo con Juntos a través del cual se ofrecen conversaciones cálidas, informativas, y personalizadas a sus clientes. “Juntos puede considerarse un ejercicio pionero,” comenta Mauricio Múnera, director de Inclusión Financiera de Bacolombia, destacando que la plataforma ha sabido adaptarse a la realidad de las personas a las que sirve.

Lea el articulo completo aquí.

REPORT: Unlocking the Promise of (Big) Data to Promote Financial Inclusion

March 24, 2017

Posted by Christina Huntzinger

“Real innovation sits where it looks the least glamorous and is the most painful.”

– Ben Knelman, CEO of Juntos

 

Earlier this month, Juntos’ work with financial service providers (FSPs) was highlighted in a report centering on the role of data in financial inclusion.  The report specifically mentions Juntos’ customer segmentation and customer engagement strategies.

 

Accion lists Juntos’ customer segmentation as an example of successful data-driven innovation in financial inclusion

 

According to Next Billion: “‘Unlocking the Promise of (Big) Data to Promote Financial Inclusion‘ [aims] to provide financial services providers with ‘actionable insights and first steps’ on how to better use big data to boost financial inclusion. The report, developed with the support of the Citi Foundation, points out a remaining gap between the vision and reality of leveraging this data. Its approach to bridging this gap was summed up memorably in a quote from Ben Knelman of Juntos Finanzas: ‘Real innovation sits where it looks the least glamorous and is the most painful.'”

Find the full report here.

Juntos Featured in The Guardian

February 17, 2017

Posted by Christina Huntzinger

Photograph: Martin Godwin for the Guardian

In an article in The Guardian titled “The unbanked: stop catering for the middle classes and open up to the world,” Chris Walker, principal data scientist and economist at Juntos, writes:

“Our research suggests, psychologically, people treat bank accounts fundamentally different to mobile-money products whose ease of use can lead to quick spending, and other research bears this out. Only when referring to bank accounts do we hear users talking about saving for a wedding or religious holiday.”

Read the full text of the article here.

What Is Lost in a Digital Financial World — And How to Get It Back

October 20, 2016

Posted by Christina Huntzinger

Written by Elisabeth Rhyne, Managing Director, Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion. This is a re-post from CFI’s blog

A lot happens in even the simplest meeting between two people. Instantly, and without thinking, each person observes the other’s appearance and body language. As their eyes connect, they form impressions and make judgments about each other. Whether it’s a smile, a handshake, or the response to a question, the information and emotional content that passes in simple acts can be far richer than the words exchanged.

It has long been important for banking operations to ensure that when customers meet staff, whether at the teller window or in the marketplace, the interactions build customers’ trust and convince them to use the institution’s services. At the same time, crucial information about the customer would flow back to the bank.

For example, a loan officer visiting a business owner’s premises observes the customer and his business directly, while the business owner gets answers to his particular questions. When a teller provides cash at a window, the customer enjoys personal care while the bank has a chance to discuss other products that serve the customer’s specific needs. And when a staff member greets a customer in the market, she can remind her that her loan is due, letting the customer know that bank staff are paying attention—and increasing the likelihood of timely repayment.

In today’s digital world, however, customers may rarely or never interact with a person. Digital transactions are fundamentally different from person-to-person encounters. Information flows in precise, narrow and predetermined electronic packets: ID verification, account balance, transaction amount, receipt. No spontaneous exchange of additional information occurs. A digital transaction lacks a social aura. It is often simply a completed task.

As we work to extend financial services to the two billion, typically lower income, people around the world who are disconnected from the financial grid, we must rely on digital financial services. Business economics make digital delivery of financial services unstoppable. And, digital services can bring dramatic benefits—service for small ticket and remote customers, 24/7 availability, fewer errors, and faster responses.

It is undeniable that in the transformation to digital interfaces, valuable personal connections between financial service providers and customers are lost. But what exactly is lost, and how can that loss be mitigated or replaced?

Among the benefits that might be at risk in the transition to digital are:

  • Customer trust and comfort with the financial institution, especially if the customer is new, interacts infrequently with formal institutions, or comes from a socially disadvantaged group
  • The ability to respond efficiently to a customer’s specific questions, supporting successful use of financial products
  • Emotional and social connections that drive behavior
  • In-person assessments that allow providers to discover and address potential problems or find new opportunities
  • The wealth of market information—about things like political events, competitor moves, or problems with specific customer segments—that front line staff gain as they do their work

How can a financial service provider mitigate the loss of these benefits? There are many creative responses. Providers can integrate elements of technology while retaining personal interactions in some parts of their delivery systems. Alternatively, they can enrich the digital experience itself, making it more like a face-to-face interaction.

Finding the Right Place for Human Touch

With staff time freed by digital transactions, banks can choose to deploy people only where they will be of the most strategic value. They can identify the points in customer relationships where person-to-person exchanges really matter—whether in initial outreach, customer enrollment, or periodic check-ins. One of the greatest needs for person-to-person support is when customers have questions. Another is assistance using technologies for the first time. Perhaps financial institutions’ branch locations could become centers of problem resolution and learning rather than routine business.

Banks can provide staff and agents with digital tools to compensate for some of the weakness of human interactions—such as inconsistency, misinformation, or bias. Digital tools can help agents provide consistent information and gather responses efficiently from customers. When banking agents are equipped with tablets, their ability to provide accurate product information is improved.

Going one step further, digital tools could be used to create richer interactions with customers. As new apps and voice and video features expand communications capabilities, and as artificial intelligence advances, providers could create richer digital customer interactions with some of the same features that a person-to-person interaction provides. It is now possible to build interfaces with data flowing in two directions to answer customer questions, provide nudges and reminders, help build financial capabilities, and receive regular customer feedback.

This future is already closer than one may think. Juntos, for example, is a platform that allows financial institutions to carry on personalized, electronic conversations with customers through text messages. Juntos’s powerful data analytics can tailor messages to customer behavior. The friendly style of the messages suggests the presence of a person, and indeed, Juntos reports that many customers share personal news and even wish Juntos a Merry Christmas during the holidays. Through the two-way data flow, customers gain a sense of connection to the institution, support for financial discipline (via reminders), and information about products. At the same time, institutions hear from customers more often.

The financial inclusion sector has barely begun to explore these possibilities. It deploys technology mainly to select customers and perform transactions. But as these basic digital functions are increasingly available, the sector may soon need to focus on creating rich, multifaceted customer interactions that capture more of the benefits of a person-to-person interaction. Customer engagement, facilitated by a combination of technology and the strategic use of people, could be the next competitive frontier.

 

This post was also published on NextBillion.

CFI Outlines the Benefits of Banks Partnering with Startups

September 21, 2016

Posted by Christina Huntzinger

As part of a series presented by the Center for Financial Inclusion (CFI) about the financial sector, Vitas Argimon explains the unique value presented by partnerships between financial startups and banks. Instead of every player duplicating the work of the others by forging ahead alone, partnering is the best way to strengthen the sector together.

 

In an article titled Commercial Banks Are Partnering With Fintechs to Reach the Unbanked, Argimon elaborates:


“As challenges by tech-enabled competition mount, banks are seeking to link-up with startups as they see opportunities to reach new markets, bring down costs, and/or enhance their service offerings. Startups offer agility, a proclivity for risk-taking, and a disruptive mindset. On the other hand, banks already have the customer scale, comprehensive product portfolio, robust infrastructure, deposit insurance, branding, and experience/expertise. The combination of these strengths can be especially enabling when seeking out previously unreached population segments because the business models for serving those segments often depend on technologies that bring down costs. Startups can offer banks the tools they need to serve lower-income customers that would be difficult to serve within the confines of their traditional banking models. At the same time, many startups need access to customers and financial resources that banks can provide.” (emphasis added)

 

commercial-bank-vs-fintech

Image via CFI

 

Argimon further highlights the benefits of bank-fintech partnerships in another article called “The New Wave of Partnership Models Between Banks and Startups.” He states that “many banks are building a vast ecosystem of partnerships to expand their reach and service offerings and to improve internal processes.” Juntos’ partnership with BBVA is highlighted in a graphic within the article.

 

whataspectoffinancialinclusion

Image via CFI

 

The characteristics inherent to both banks and startups provide a unique opportunity for partnerships and growth between both entities. For further reading, be sure to read both the first and second article in the CFI series.

 

 

 

Juntos Featured in CFI’s July 2016 Report

July 13, 2016

Posted by Christina Huntzinger

In a report titled “The Business of Financial Inclusion: Insights from Banks in Emerging Markets,” the Center for Financial Inclusion (CFI) lists Juntos as one organization enabling innovative means of financial capability for banks. The report explains:

“Many banks are designing simpler products, usually entry products that give new customers experience with
banking. Others embed financial capability into product design and delivery. They find ways to help customers
learn by doing and give information at teachable moments when customers are most engaged in learning
about potential services. BBVA Bancomer and Bancolombia each contract with Juntos to send SMS messages
to customers. These messages are tailored to each customer’s use patterns, and customers respond with text
messages that then give the bank more information about the customer’s needs and preferences. The two-way
communication not only builds customers’ capability, it also builds the bank’s capacity to understand its
customers.”

 

Juntos CFI Report

Image from page 27 of CFI’s report

 

Read more on pages 23 and 27 of CFI’s July 2016 report.

BBVA Bancomer Publishes Results of Partnership with Juntos

July 1, 2016

Posted by Christina Huntzinger

BBVA Bancomer recently published the results of their partnership with Juntos. On page 19 of the report (full report available here; in Spanish), BBVA notes that the partnership resulted in overall higher average balances and an increase in transactions in digital accounts.

BBVA Bancomer ya publicó un reporte sobre los resultados de la colaboración con Juntos. Abajo se detallan las diferencias entre los saldos promedio de los usuarios en el grupo de Juntos y el grupo control. Se puede encontrar el reporte en su totalidad aquí.
BBVA-Juntos

Juntos’ Platform Profiled by GSMA

May 5, 2016

Posted by Christina Huntzinger

Juntos was recently featured on GSMA’s Mobile for Development blog. The article outlines the needs that mobile money operators have when developing a merchant payment proposition, including issuing, acquiring, and pricing characteristics. Juntos is highlighted as a company that provides support to customers and merchants as merchant payment systems grow and expand in many markets. With a new mobile money feature such as merchant payments, awareness of the service is essential, and Juntos’ SMS messaging can help facilitate use of and engagement in such a service.


While mobile money providers must continue to deploy a strong sales team on the ground to support the growth of merchant payments, partnerships with third parties who can offer support on education and training for increasing… awareness and usage of such a service can lead to a significant growth in transactions.” (emphasis added)

 

Read the full text of the article here.

Social Proof and Mobile Money: New CGAP Blog

May 2, 2016

Posted by Christina Huntzinger

Juntos’ conversational design relies on common principles of behavioral economics and on-the-ground research about users’ beliefs and experiences with money. A recent article at CGAP explores Juntos’ successful implementation of the behavioral economics concept of social proof.

 

“Social proof gives people a cue about what risks are worth taking by sharing with them the outcomes and experiences of their peers…. In order to do this, Juntos leverages two-way interactive SMS to increase transactions, account usage, and overall engagement with customers.”


Read the full text of the article here

La percepción y el comportamiento: un análisis multicultural del ahorro

April 28, 2016

Posted by Christina Huntzinger

Escrito por Verónica Pugin, Latin America Relationship Manager

 

Estudiando las percepciones con respecto al ahorro

Las instituciones financieras suponen que cuando pensamos en “el ahorro,” todos tenemos la misma percepción que el ahorro =

  • Dinero depositado con frecuencia y no retirado de una cuenta bancaria que genera interés

 

En nuestra comunicación con miles de usuarios alrededor del mundo, nos hemos dado cuenta que esta percepción de la banca tradicional muchas veces no corresponde a la percepción de los usuarios de bajos ingresos. Las percepciones más comunes que hemos observado hasta ahora entre las comunidades de bajos ingresos que hemos encontrado indican que el ahorro =

  • Dinero efectivo
  • Ítems de valor que no son monetarios
  • Crédito
  • Fondos grupales

 

Estas percepciones varían entre países y regiones, con algunas más prevalentes en algunas comunidades que otras, pero más que todo, todas difieren de la percepción presumida por la banca tradicional. En algunas comunidades de usuarios de bajos ingresos, en especial en las áreas rurales, uno no se encuentra con el dinero en efectivo con tanta frecuencia como en los centros urbanos; por lo tanto, muchas veces la percepción del ahorro no es monetaria. A fin de cuentas, los usuarios tienen varias percepciones conectadas al “ahorro.”

 

Indonesia

 

Después de que se forma una percepción, esa percepción influye el comportamiento, de forma consciente o inconsciente. Aquí siguen algunas manifestaciones de comportamiento que resultan por causa de las percepciones del ahorro de los usuarios de bajos ingresos.

 

Estudiando el comportamiento con respecto al ahorro

 

El ahorro en forma de dinero efectivo

  • La percepción de usuarios: En varias comunidades, observamos que los usuarios perciben el ahorro como “dinero efectivo no gastado y guardado para más tarde.”
  • El comportamiento de los usuarios:
    • Colombia: En nuestras investigaciones, notamos que los individuos ahorran billetes y monedas en cajitas. Los individuos que antes no practicaban hábitos del ahorro consistentes muchas veces guardan el dinero efectivo en una cajita como primer paso hacia el ahorro, en vez de depositar en una cuenta bancaria.
    • Filipinas: Encontramos individuos que ahorraran billetes y monedas en una jarra en su casa. Los individuos sentían que el monto de su ahorro no era suficiente para depositar en una cuenta bancaria, así que la jarra servía como su manera de ahorrar dinero efectivo.
    • Rwanda: Es común que las mujeres ahorran dinero efectivo en sus casas. Para las mujeres en estas comunidades, es difícil encontrar dinero efectivo. Cuando sí lo encuentran, se fijan de ahorrarlo.

 

El ahorro en forma de ítems de valor que no son monetarios

  • La percepción de usuarios: En varias comunidades, hemos aprendido que el ahorro puede significar ítems que no son monetarios pero tienen valor o sirven como fuente para otra meta.
  • El comportamiento de los usuarios:
    • México: Algunos individuos y familias recogen ítems no monetarios que son insumos hacia su meta sin necesidad del dinero efectivo. Por ejemplo, la meta más común era ahorrar para comprar una casa. Los usuarios ahorraban para una casa por medios de ahorrar concreto y ladrillos que luego podrían usarse para construir una casa en vez de depositar dinero en una cuenta bancaria.
    • Filipinas: En nuestra investigación, aprendimos que ciertos individuos usan ítems de valor que no son monetarios para ahorrar. Es común usar la joyería, en especial oro, como medio de ahorrar valor en vez de depositar dinero en una cuenta bancaria.
    • Tanzania: Ciertos individuos ahorran ítems de valor que no son monetarios que se pueden vender más tarde cuando necesiten dinero efectivo.  Los ítems de valor que no son monetarios se perciben como medio de conseguir dinero, tal como tener dinero en una cuenta bancaria.

 

El ahorro en forma de crédito

  • La percepción de los usuarios: A veces, los usuarios perciben el crédito como una forma del ahorro porque se puede usarlo para alcanzar una meta o estabilizar los ingresos. Se necesita tener una “reputación de ser confiable” en la comunidad para conseguir ese crédito, tal como una calificación de crédito.
  • El comportamiento de los usuarios:
    • Paraguay: Aprendimos que el crédito informal se puede usar para metas de larga duración y también los gastos diarios. Por ejemplo, se puede conseguir un préstamo pequeño para comprar el almuerzo. Los usuarios trabajan para tener una reputación de ser confiable para poder obtener préstamos de otras personas. Esta reputación de ser confiable es un bien que les permite enfrentar choques en su ingreso y perseguir metas financieras.
    • México: En nuestra experiencia, aprendimos que el comportamiento de prestar dinero es una manera común de manejar las demandas financieras de corto y largo plazo. Asimismo, una reputación de ser confiable es un bien que protege a los individuos para poder tener acceso al crédito.
    • Tanzania: Aunque no es tan popular como antes, existen asociaciones semiformales de crédito y ahorro que les ofrecen a los participantes cuentas de ahorro y opciones de intercambio de préstamos. Es decir, se puede sacar dinero o sacar un crédito como una forma de intercambiar el ahorro. Las opciones de intercambiar préstamos se ven en paralelo como forma de ahorrar.

Tanzania

El ahorro en la forma de fondos grupales

  • La percepción de los usuarios: A través del mundo, los usuarios de bajos ingresos participan con frecuencia en grupos que juntan fondos como medio de ahorrar. Grupos de individuos organizan un fondo grupal en que cada persona contribuye su propio dinero y se rotan los beneficiarios.
  • El comportamiento de los usuarios:
    • Indonesia: La cultura indonesia valora los logros en comunidad, incluyendo el ahorro. Los grupos de ahorro no solo sirven para juntar fondos sino también como una actividad social en que los individuos disfrutan del tiempo juntos. Los usuarios también sienten que en caso de una emergencia siempre podrán juntar fondos de su comunidad porque tienen la confianza que se ha establecido entre los miembros del grupo de ahorro.
    • México: Es muy común que individuos participan en tandas (grupos de ahorro) en que el líder recoge una cantidad pequeña de dinero de cada persona semanalmente o mensualmente. Luego, se distribuye una suma agregada a cada participante cada semana o cada mes hasta que todos han tenido la oportunidad de recibir una suma agregada.
    • Rwanda: Para las mujeres, una manera más segura de ahorrar dinero efectivo es participar en una chama. Una chama es un grupo de diez a quince amas de casa que son amigas en una comunidad. Todas contribuyen una cantidad de dinero a la chama, y luego tienen que decidir quién será la beneficiaria del dinero cada mes hasta que todas han recibido una suma global. Cada beneficiaria tiene que devolver el dinero a la chama.

Mexico
Estos son sólo algunos ejemplos que hemos encontrado que muestran la diferencia entre las percepciones de la banca tradicional de las instituciones financieras y las percepciones de los usuarios de bajos ingresos con respecto al ahorro. En Juntos, invertimos recursos en entender esta diferencia de percepciones para guiar y diseñar nuestras conversaciones bidireccionales para nuestros usuarios. Comprender las percepciones de los individuos es el primer paso para poder comprender la gente y su comportamiento, que es fundamental para cualquier esfuerzo para promover cambios positivos en cualquier grupo o un individuo.

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