This week we published Digitizing Community Banking with Kwara’s Cynthia Wandia.
In this episode, we talk about the role of community banking in markets with such low formal banking penetration. The logic follows that if an outsize number of consumers are members of the institutions in question, then there is an especially acute need and opportunity to build digital tools for these organizations (that Cynthia calls “as analog as it gets”).
What’s perhaps even more exiting are the second order effects – SACCOs (savings and credit cooperative societies) are high-trust organizations through which the last-mile can be reached. We can imagine the impact on financial inclusion when, say, an insurance product is offered through Kwara to its customers and their members.
You can listen to the full episode here.
Product and Storytelling
Last year, we featured Paystack’s Head of Growth Emmanuel Quartey in an episode on media and the tech industry. And he had a great quote on storytelling –
I was reminded of this quote recently. I am currently trialing Superhuman, the $30/month email service that enables you answer emails like a Superhuman (or something like that). “Why on earth would you pay $30/month for email,” you might be asking yourself. And, in fact, I am too.
The answer is that Superhuman is not just a great product, but its founder is an amazing storyteller. Just watch this clip below where he juxtaposes the experience of CCing and BCCing people in Gmail versus Superhuman.
A pretty innocuous workflow is made to seem 10 times (100 times?) better when using Superhuman. Now Superhuman has me feeling not only that its product is superior, but that Gmail is deficient.
We can imagine the opportunity and impact of this narrative approach in markets on the continent, where the incumbent technologies are perhaps overtly and objectively worse than, say, Gmail.
More on Products
One more thing on Superhuman – another interesting element to their business is user onboarding. Each Superhuman user has to go through a 30-minute onboarding call, presumably to mitigate some of the learning curve of a new product and workflow.
Likewise, in this week’s episode, Cynthia talked about Kwara’s onboarding process as a critical exercise with their new customers to ensure longterm success. In Kwara’s case, the migration of historical data, for example, requires a more robust, service-based approach.
That’s on one end of the spectrum. On the other end are simple, bare bones products like Stax – a consumer-facing payments app allowing users to send and receive mobile money payments without having to use long USSD codes.
Mark Twain once said, “I apologize for such a long letter – I didn’t have time to write a short one.” I suspect the same logic applies here, as well, in designing and developing simple products with restraint and diligence.
And I also suspect the need for simple products is more acute in African markets, where there is a supposed digital literacy gap that needs to be filled.
MTN MoMo + MasterCard = Netflix
MTN and MasterCard announced a partnership this week, enabling MTN mobile money users to make purchases online using a virtual card linked to their mobile money wallets.
Meanwhile, Netflix also announced that they have hired a Director of Payments for the EMEA region to work on, amongst other products, the streaming platform’s more affordable, mobile-only subscriptions.
In a recent essay, If you build it, nonconsumers will come, we referenced an anecdote from Stripe’s Patrick Collison on payment options and China,
“We had this experience with China, where we’d go to US businesses and be like, ‘Hey, you guys should support WeChat payments and Alipay’, and they’ll say, ‘We don’t actually sell a lot in China’. And we’re like, ‘You don’t sell a lot in China because you don’t support it’, and then we’d go and add support and they’d see actually a lot of folks here that want to buy it… and it turns out that when you build the proper consumer support, sales from that country or that region really tend to skyrocket.”
I am excited to see the outcomes of both initiatives, as they help us answer the chicken and egg questions about market size.
Thanks for reading,