November 11, 2021

ModusBox, ThitsaWorks, ONOW Myanmar, and USAID Develop Digital Financial Services Education Platform for MFIs and Underserved Clients

by Drew Johnson in Announcements , Financial Inclusion , Microfinance 0 comments

In partnership with ThitsaWorks and ONOW Myanmar, ModusBox is pleased to announce the addition of an upskilling component to the Myanmar Microfinance Digitization project we initiated alongside the UNCDF. RSG (Ready, Set, Go) is an education program designed to deliver training through easily accessible platforms that are familiar throughout the microfinance industry. With support from USAID’s (U.S. Agency for International Development) Digital Asia Accelerator, microfinance institutions (MFIs) and their clients – mostly women-operated micro/small/medium enterprises – will receive training to safely adopt digital financial services.

Connecting the puzzle pieces to deliver real-time payment solutions 

Building a payment system is like putting puzzle pieces together to reveal a work of art. In this case, the pieces include financial institutions, technology, infrastructure, digital products, regulation, system rules, governance, and others. Unfortunately, due to the number of participants, it is nearly impossible to have all the pieces at the start; you need to find and connect the pieces along the way.

The missing piece: upskilling users

Upskilling the users of digital financial services is a piece that is often overlooked. After all, what is the need for education if products are gracefully designed with the end-user in mind?  However, we must not overlook the potentially deleterious effects of dropping digital products into the hands of inexperienced users. A lack of education means that people won’t use or will misuse the products. For example, 22 percent of merchants report that payment fraud is a challenge, and all too often, scams tend to target more vulnerable, less educated consumers. Or, consider the spread of hate speech on social media that led to violence in Myanmar and the rise of unregulated peer-to-peer lending that serve as warnings. 

In Myanmar, ModusBox has been working with the UNCDF and the microfinance sector to develop an inclusive payment system called WynePay that aligns with the Level One Principles set forth by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s research. We’ve been assembling the puzzle with several pieces coming together in the last six months: ThitsaWorks will act as the hub operator, and CB Bank will provide initial settlement services. 

Upskilling microfinance clients on digital and financial literacy has always been in the plan for WynePay. With funding from USAID’s Digital Asia Accelerator initiative and as part of the Digital Connectivity and Cybersecurity Partnership, ModusBox, ThitsaWorks, and ONOW Myanmar are adding the upskilling piece to WynePay.

Microfinance clients, mostly women-operated micro/small/medium enterprises (MSMEs), will receive digital and financial literacy training through ThitsaWorks’ Pite Pite and ONOW’s Ngwe Oo Yin chatbots. Through these tools, MSMEs will learn how to use a digital wallet, receive and repay their loan through WynePay, foundational digital literacy concepts, and basic financial literacy.

In addition to working with MSMEs, ModusBox, ThitsaWorks, and ONOW will work with MFI staff to adopt digital payments within their organizations. Technical and operations teams will receive support to connect to WynePay services. MFI loan officers, the vital touchpoint with clients, will receive training on digital and financial literacy concepts to help their clients make the digital transition.

RSG (Ready, Set, Go) is the training program designed in collaboration with our partners to deliver this targeted training through easily accessible and familiar platforms.

Completing an inclusive puzzle

Myanmar’s MSMEs are low-income clients, many of whom will use digital financial services for the first time. We believe that supporting the underserved on this journey is essential in gaining equitable access and usage of safe and connected savings, credit, insurance, and payments. It is not enough to simply adopt the mindset of “build it, and they will come.” We must ensure that the system includes them in an informed and empowered manner.

When finished, every puzzle is a work of art. In Myanmar, the RSG program adds another piece to the payment system puzzle. A system where microfinance institutions have access to inclusive and interoperable payment systems. 

If you would like to learn more about our work with WynePay and Ready, Set, Go or how we are driving open, interoperable, real-time payments, please start a conversation with our team today.

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