Data with a Purpose: A Call for Creativity and Cooperation
The idea of a world that is financially included is compelling. But it will be almost impossible to achieve without a groundswell of collaboration and creativity. A host of actors need to cooperate to bring transparency to financial services, to track progress over time and to help target outreach. And we may not know in advance who needs to participate for the effort to truly succeed.
Last fall, we at MIX set out to compile high-level data on financial inclusion in Nigeria. We were able to use data shared by the Central Bank of Nigeria to geo-tag the locations of 800+ microfinance banks in Nigeria. After publishing this mapping, we learned about the work of Dr. Adegbola Ojo who had compiled the NIGECS dataset with highly localized data on living conditions in Nigeria. Using the NIGECS data enabled a first-ever analysis of how the supply of microfinance in Nigeria matched against district-level demographics, such as poverty, household revenue sources (e.g., pensions, salaries) and other important factors.
In this case, data sharing by a regulator and a researcher led to knowledge exchange and a much closer look at how Nigeria is faring against its goals for financial inclusion—more than previously had been possible.
Cooperation requires different kinds of commitment across market actors. Policymakers have the power to convene different actors and to support harmonization. Regulators and industry networks can collect data to monitor their constituencies. Researchers and public and private organizations can aggregate demand data through surveys and transaction data. Collecting and analyzing financial inclusion data requires collaboration among all of these actors.