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Microfinance Now: Graham Wright

In this interview Graham Wright, Program Director for Microsave, talks about the challenges of developing appropriate financial products for poor clients. “One of the challenges for those of us who are interested in financial inclusion,” he argues, “is to optimize the use of technology to deliver more sophisticated products, but at the same time help our staff to communicate those in a way that is understandable to clients.” Mobile money “has the potential to completely revolutionize financial inclusion,” says Wright. And yet many microfinance institutions are struggling with what this means.

Financial inclusion involves offering a full range of banking services, and therefore Wright argues that bank-led models need to be brought in as quickly as possible “so that we have a range of products riding on these mobile money platforms.” At the same time, microfinance institutions will have to “rethink the way they do business.” Microfinance institutions have the experience that makes them the perfect candidates to be agent networks. “It’s a significant gear shift,” he argues, “But a tremendous opportunity.” Building on the early lessons, Wright argues that it’s now time to “go back to basics, understand the client, build the agent network. It’s a longer haul and more of a struggle than we anticipated,” says Wright. But if successful, it could “massify financial inclusion at much lower cost.”

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