MIX News Brief: 11 January 2019

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11 January 2019


Every other week we post recent articles curated by our team of data analysts and financial sector experts.  The articles span sectors and topics including fintech, smallholder finance, mobile money and more.  The MIX News Brief is intended to keep socially responsible investors and businesses updated on the latest thinking on financial services for the poor because, at MIX, our mission is to provide the data, analytics and insight that enable decision makers to build inclusive financial services ecosystems.  Let us know what you think by tweeting at @mix_market!   


Mastercard dropped its name from its logo because the future of payment is digital (Vox)

“Reinvention in the digital age calls for modern simplicity.”  That's another way of saying that the Mastercard logo will no longer include the name of the company.  On its own, this seemingly counterintuitive way of representing a company is not as drastic as it might seem.  Nike, Apple, Target, and Starbucks all dropped their names from their logos.  All, including Mastercard, are symbols so iconic that words are not required.  But the difference between the others and Mastercard is that the latter has more to do with business strategy than pure branding.  As Gaby Del Valle notes, this effort "suggests that the company is increasingly shifting its branding strategy in preparation for a post-credit card world where other forms of digital payment will reign supreme."  Of course, that's not news for most of our readers.


Chatbots for Financial Inclusion in Senegal (Nate Bernhard on Medium)

In our most recent newsletter, we mentioned a chatbot named Charlie created to help un/underserved customers (and also happens to be a penguin).  After three years Charlie supports 250,000 users, 80 percent of whom are women.  Maybe that's why we were interested in this article about a DFS Lab-supported effort to "demonstrate the potential of chatbots for financial inclusion."  One particularly interesting reflection from their work is reaching illiterate users; voice messages can help communicate and even educate, but a permanent recording of, say, an account balance is still required.  These challenges notwithstanding, we're convinced that chatbots have the potential to improve the customer experience for un/underserved customers. 


Bank/Fintech Partnerships Will Be A Huge Disappointment In 2019 (Forbes)

Ron Shelvin of Cornerstone Advisors wonders if banks really grasp the level of effort required to build partnerships with fintechs and respond to evolving expectations.  Much of this is based on anecdotal evidence from Mr. Shelvin's conversations with bank executives, and the article includes observations that only the author of "Moments of Snark" on the Breaking Banks podcast could provide.  The main takeaway is that partnerships between banks and fintechs sounds simple enough on paper but the reality is much more complicated.  Further, it's common for banks to jump straight into a partnership without thinking about their organizational strategy and whether or not it is the right step.  After all, maybe all banks really need is a vendor.


Why The Future of Fintech Looks Bright in the ASEAN Region (Entrepreneur)

This three-minute read is short and sweet but we'll still summarize it for our dedicated readers all the same.  A recent Deloitte report estimated that the flow of investment dollars into fintechs in the ASEAN region is expected to grow by 20 to 30 percent year-over-year.  And it's not just the investors that are bullish on the region's potential; fintechs reported that low penetration of banking services in the region make it a compelling contender at the "forefront in the development of financial technologies."  What do you think?  Send us a tweet at @mix_market.