Protecting Savings Groups Reached Through High-Tech Channels: Guidance from the New Client Protection Principles for a Digital Savings Product

Desipte what now appears to be ubiquitous acceptance and excitement that the world’s poor are or soon will be transacting financially through their mobile phones, digital finance, and in particular digital savings, is still relatively new. For countries like Burkina Faso, there is still significant ground to cover in digital financial services. Seventy-one percent of the population lives in rural areas. In 2014, it was estimated that there were approximately nine internet users per 100 people in Burkina Faso, but almost 80 percent of the population had a mobile phone connection (this references the number of unique mobile subscribers, which risks double counting since it is based on the number of SIM cards, and one individual could have multiple mobile connections). The promise of digital services is significant for the rural unbanked in Burkina Faso. However, there are very few clear-cut best prac ces for designing these services. There are even fewer best practi ces when designing for client protection. This case study, from the Freedom from Hunger’s Bridge to Financial Inclusion project based in Burkina Faso, highlights the experiences of integrating client protection principles – the minimum standards microfinance clients should expect – into the initial design and roll-out of a digital savings product designed for savings groups.

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