Swadhaar, Accion, and Airtel Money: Mobile Money for Female Customers in India

Can MFIs and mobile network operators work together to help clients benefit from mobile money?

In January 2013, Swadhaar, a microfinance institution in India, and Accion, an international non-governmental organization, launched a mobile money pilot in partnership with Airtel Money and Axis Bank. The pilot aimed to enable Swadhaar’s loan customers to repay their monthly loan instalments using mobile money. In January 2014, Accion and Swadhaar were awarded a GSMA Connected Women Innovation Fund grant to improve the pilot mobile money solution, in particular by revising the customer education materials and implementing a Peer Educator Connection Program.

Early results, outlined in this study, indicate customer education was important to driving uptake. The revised education materials increased usage of not only the loan repayment solution but other transactions as well, such as saving, airtime recharge, and bill payment. Before the education materials were changed, 37% of customers in the pilot reported using mobile money for loan repayment and only 5% reported making other mobile money transactions besides loan repayment. Low uptake was, in part, a function of the nascent nature of mobile money in India, with Swadhaar being the first microfinance institution in India to adopt mobile money in partnership with a mobile network operator (MNO). In a survey after the changes, 69%, 29%, and 36% of new customers reported using mobile money for loan repayment, saving and other transactions, respectively.

About this Publication

By Fatal Karim, S.