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PHB Development, towards financial inclusion


Spring/Summer 2015



FINCA expands its high quality agent network in Africa


PHB Development’s Ciprian Panturu started, early this year, a long term assignment with FINCA to help develop and expand a high quality agent network in Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi.

Ciprian: ”FINCA chooses quality: well trained, active and liquid agents should ensure a flawless customer experience. FINCA seeks its competitive advantage in that experience! Therefore, its network is expanding gradually, valuing high standards and uniformity of service over a great number of agents. The agents are introduced to the clients by FINCA staff, who closely monitors and supports the client – agent relationship in the first phase.
Initially, loan clients are the ones using agents' services. Once the trust and relationship are built, agents play an active role in promoting savings products and their benefits to the client.
The slow growth strategy is not for lack of ambition. FINCA’s Agency banking is now 5 months old in Tanzania and already shows the benefits of the approach, while the pilot in Zambia has started and Malawi will be next in line. I will be deployed in these countries for at least 8 months and I am determined to support FINCA realize the quality it seeks!”


Digital remittances for refugees in Jordan!

PHB Development is currently working with GIZ to leverage access to remittances and other financial services through digital solutions in Jordan.

The project is planned to start in October 2015 and to last three years with a total contribution of up to 2.3 million euros by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the involvement of other potential stakeholders.
Refugees from neighboring conflict-affected countries (mainly Syria) as well as Jordanians will be the beneficiaries of this project, which is part of the German development cooperation’s special initiative "Tackling the root causes of displacement, reintegrating refugees." GIZ’s initiative aims to increase the targeted populations’ revenues and improve their capacity to manage their money and develop productive activities, thanks to formal digital means, which are more efficient and better fit their needs.
PHB Development is providing inputs to support the transition to digital transfers and financial inclusion through mobile wallets. Among other tasks, this consultancy includes facilitating the dialog between the Central Bank of Jordan and stakeholders to mitigate the risks related to the development of digital channels in a practical way. PHB will also give support to pilot initiatives related to digital payments and social payments (through mobile wallets), as well as support for improving financial literacy, digital payment adoption and capacity building to develop economic activities.


New channels to pay Ebola response workers


PHB Development is contributing to the UN’s Global Ebola Response since last November.  We swiftly responded to the UN’s call to work on the Payments Program for Ebola Response Workers and put together a team of experts with local presence in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

In order to ensure that adequate and steady services were provided in Ebola stricken countries, managing and improving payments to Ebola Response Workers (ERWs) was one of the key objectives within the framework of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER). Mobile payments were selected as one of the channels that should be enhanced to better secure the payments and reduce the use of cash.
Dire situations can sometimes spur positive change. In Sierra Leone, we made the transition of all cash payments to mobile payments in just one month with agreements with Airtel, Africell and Splash.  We also put in place a mobile payments monitoring system and SMS broadcasts for updates on payments. Furthermore, we moved 34% of workers to free bank transfers in March 2015 from mobile payments. We are supervising a Complaints Resolution System, and helpdesk, with a low complaint rate; and we oversee a quickly evolving cloud-based payroll system of around 32,000 ERWs.  In addition, Sierra Leone has now joined the Better than Cash Alliance.
Lorisa Canillas, our on-site consultant, stated: ‘’Achievements and lessons learned from the work we are undertaking in Sierra Leone are valuable for the development and growth of digital payments, particularly mobile money. Already, a number of organizations are also planning to use mobile payments for early recovery and social cash transfers in emergency situation.’’




New e-MFP Digital Finance Action Group!

Philippe Breul, partner of PHB Development, has been nominated to head the Action Group (AG) “Digital Innovations for Financial Empowerment” (DIFE). The group was created to leverage the digital channel in order to contribute to the effort of providing financial services to the 2 billion people in the world who are still unbanked. DIFE, active in the framework of the European Microfinance Platform, brings together more than 40 members active in digital finance with complementary and diverse backgrounds. The AG’s main objectives are knowledge sharing and experience capitalization to foster the scaling up and sustainable development of digital channels around the world.


Latest conferences: AFD, UMM, ALFI and ACP/EU

As a recognised actor in Mobile/Digital financial  services, PHB Development has actively participated in and shared its experience at four recent important events of the sector. With the support of PHB Development Consultants (such as Aurelie Wildt Dagneaux, Victorin Salifou…), Philippe Breul, Partner and Digital Financial Services Expert, has chaired and moderated panels devoted to solutions and opportunities enabled by digital innovations.

Operational cost reduction: Branchless Banking” at AFD in Paris (March 2015)
Responsible Digital Finance” at University Meets Microfinance in Frankfurt (March 2015)
Mobile technology and new innovative services for inclusive finance at ALFI in Luxemburg (April 2015)
Financial products adapted to the needs of the poor” at ACP/EU Microfinance in Brussels (April 2015)

Latest article: Microfinance Barometer

Philippe Breul will also participate and present the article he co-authored with Marie-Sophie Tar, partner of PHB Development, ‘’La nouvelle expérience digitale des clients de la microfinance’’ at the launch of Microfinance Barometer 2015 at FNCE in Paris (June 2015).




The inclusive
consulting firm
towards financial acces


Satellite Data for agriculture-information services
The Netherlands Space Office (NSO) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands have joined forces in the project Geodata for Agriculture and Water (G4AW). The project aims to make satellite gathered data available to smallholder farmers in developing countries. The data, primarily on the weather, but also on market prices and financial services, will increase food security. The G4AW project is well in line with our social objectives. In a new approach for PHB Development, NSO hired us to evaluate proposals submitted to G4AW to obtain funding. PHB has done so to the satisfaction of NSO by putting its expertise to good use: delivering effective services to end users at the bottom of the pyramid. 

UNCDF updates with the Bank of Lao
Since September 2013, David Kleiman, PHB’s on-site Digital Financial Expert, is leading his team on a long term project with UNCDF for the Bank of Lao through the implementation of a Lao DFS country program. Latest achievements of this project include:                            
 1) BCEL Community Money Express (BCOME)  has successfully launched the first ever branchless banking initiative in Laos, BCL Community Money Express (BCOME) with a pilot of 36 agents.
Two MNOS, ETL and Unitel have submitted their applications to Bank of the Lao PDR to launch mobile money services. Both Operators expect to launch their programs within 2015.
The  3rd Quarterly  Digital  Finance  Working  Group was convened mid-June  and brought together all  key  stakeholders  to  better understand the  opportunities  and challenges for  DFS in Laos.                      



Celse Maregarege:
‘’I am a 23 year Belgian student originally from Burundi where my family still lives. I never forgot this beautiful country and the hospitability of its people, but also, unfortunately its many problems. Early on, I had wondered if microfinance would be the way forward. When PHB Development offered me a 3 month internship for a project with Urwego Opportunity Bank in Kigali, Rwanda, I immediately responded. I now just returned for another 3 month project to help UOB improve its agent banking. I travelled in rural areas, spoke with many clients and interviewed agents. I have experienced microfinance in the field and I have seen it work: this will be my future career !’’
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