MIX News Brief: 7 September 2018

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7 September 2018


Welcome to the MIX News Brief!   


Every other week we'll post recent articles curated by our team of data analysts and financial sector experts.  The articles will 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.  We hope the MIX News Brief provides useful information to help you deliver appropriate financial services to everyone, everywhere.  Let us know what you think by tweeting at @mix_market!   



Building data ecosystems for financial inclusion (Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion) 

What does it take to go from data silo to data flow?  Ethan Loufield asks this and other probing questions that explore the obstacles to "unlocking data's potential" to advance financial inclusion.  We could dig deeper (and you could too with the associated report) but suffice it to say that we agree!  Though Mr. Loufield's article focuses on the value of client data (demand-side), we see the same obstacles limiting the flow of provider and funding data (supply-side).  But his call-to-action has been heard loud and clear; we are already working to bring the data out from the siloes and into the stream in sectors including smallholder finance (see our work with CSAF or One Acre Fund) and digital financial services (more on this soon).  


Lack of market 'plumbing' holds back sustainable investing (Financial Times) 

UBS Chairman Axel Weber argues that standards and benchmarks are needed for the sector (sustainable investing, impact investing, social investing – have your pick) to take off.  There's a chance that Mr. Weber has been listening in on us:  We've said many times before that the "plumbing" - that is, standard vocabulary, definitions and metrics – is a "crucial piece of market infrastructure."  Not only that, Mr. Weber goes on to talk about the importance of benchmarks that make comparison across product or provider types possible.  If you're unfamiliar with MIX there is one thing you need to know about us: We like benchmarks. 


Mobile money interoperability is the next revolution in Africa (CNBC Africa) 

This is the article you send to colleagues, students or your friends when you've tried but failed to properly explain mobile money interoperability.  Kosta Peric, from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, also explains why it's important for financial inclusion; the short version is that "when digital finance is unencumbered, people are empowered."  Mr. Peric highlights recent developments that make interoperability among service providers and others more likely, including open-source software like the kind developed by the Foundation itself (Mojaloop).  There are other reasons to be bullish on mobile money interoperability and we think that's a good thing for the unbanked.   


How can regulators promote innovation while also protecting consumers? (Pew Charitable Trusts) 

The new report from the Pew Charitable Trusts might provide recommendations for the United States, but it takes lessons from the international experience.  There is of course the 'sandbox' approach to enabling innovation in financial services while ensuring consumer protection.  But Pew researchers wonder whether the U.S.'s heavily fragmented regulatory regime (too many acronyms to list) will present a coordination nightmare.  It's important to take a breath and note the (well-placed) concern that much of the innovation from fintechs are focused on smartphones while many of the unbanked rely on feature phones (Myanmar may be an exception).  Not to spoil the report's conclusion, but let's just say that U.S. regulators have their work cut out for them.