The availability of data in financial inclusion has grown tremendously in recent years. Data initiatives such as the World Bank’s Findex, FinMark Trust’s Finscope, IMF’s Financial Access Surveys, AFI’s Core Set, GPFI’s Basic Set, MIX Market’s Finclusion Lab, as well as countless studies driven at a national level have played a critical role in deepening our understanding of financial inclusion.
At the same time, increasing volumes of client data are becoming available for use by financial service providers. This includes internal client data such as transactional data as well as new external sources of data emerging from fields that were previously thought of as unrelated to financial services. These alternative data sources – number of Facebook likes, overnight airtime balance, what material your home is made of – are being used to gather important information to deliver financial services to new consumer segments. While many of these innovations are happening outside of the financial inclusion space, the availability of this data and willingness of providers to use them in developing and emerging market contexts has resulted in rich insights that can help service providers reach and serve previously excluded populations.
However, despite the increasing availability of data, in practice a disconnect still exists between the decisions being made for financial inclusion and the data. Whether it’s that the data is not easily accessible or that it does not respond to their specific needs, policymakers, financial service providers, and development partners have yet to fully capitalise on the power of data to inform their work. This data gap hinders the ability of the financial sector to reach out to all segments of the population and generate better financial inclusion and welfare outcomes.
Launched in 2015, i2i was created in response to this identified data gap. The i2i facility is jointly hosted by Cenfri and FinMark Trust and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation.
We are in the business of liberating data. Whether you are a financial service provider, a policymaker, impact investor, or development partner, we want you to optimise the impact of your work through the use of data. i2i is a resource centre that aims to catalyse the provision and use of data by private and public sector actors to improve financial inclusion through evidence-based, data-driven policies and client-centric product design.
We facilitate the data market and bridge the data gap to sustainably connect decision-makers with the data they need. We accomplish this by building on and showcasing the existing knowledge base of financial inclusion data and collaborating with a wide range of partners, including, individuals, companies, organizations, and other entities that are well-positioned to provide high-quality data solutions to financial service providers, policymakers, and other financial inclusion actors.
We innovate around data. Data can play an integral role in all aspects of financial inclusion development. We are experimenting with new ways to collect, analyse and store data more effectively and efficiently. This can mean lowering the cost of up-to-date, high quality geospatial data on financial access points or helping banks offer more tailored financial solutions to their clients by analysing their existing transactional data. We are also looking into integrated data solutions such as machine learning to better assess credit worthiness for clients with no official credit history or APIs to share client data to open the door to additional services that improve their client value. Currently, many of these practices are emerging and being adopted in developed countries or in other sectors. We are looking to learn from these innovations and apply them, where relevant, to opportunities for expanding financial inclusion in developing and emerging markets.
Data is a public good and we believe that making financial inclusion data more open will change the sector in ways we cannot yet even imagine. We open data in three ways:
We enable financial inclusion that enables. We believe that financial inclusion enables people to weather economic storms, make productive investments, and accumulate wealth. To achieve this, we envision a vibrant responsive data solutions market. We enable local and international data scientists to better serve financial service providers and policymakers with relevant, robust, quality data solutions. At the same time, we enable financial service providers and policymakers to tap into this pool of local and international expertise and talent to help translate data into insights and insights into real impact on the ground. (Then measure that impact!) We do this through funding, technical assistance, and connecting data expertise and financial sector practitioners.