BIMA, an InsureTech company that delivers insurance via mobile to over 24 million customers in Africa, Asia and Latin America, has published the findings of its study into the emerging financial services consumer. The report provides insight into this little-understood segment, based on the results of a survey of over 4,000 respondents living at the ‘bottom of the pyramid’. The report examines demographics, the effectiveness of mobile to reach previously unbanked / excluded families, and consumer preference and behaviours.


It draws on these findings to give a call to action for regulators and mobile operators to address the lack of regulatory framework for Mobile Financial Services, which constrains the ability of the industry to deliver effectively while protecting vulnerable consumers.


Download a full copy of the report here or read on for key findings,



  • Emerging market consumers now more likely to access financial services through mobile than traditional channels; 75% of first time insurance customers via mobile
  • Mobile airtime and wallets creates a digital payment channel for the unbanked; 90% prefer to use mobile money or PAYG credit over cash
  • Lack of a clear regulatory framework and lobbying from traditional banking industry constrains Telcos ability to roll out new services and governments from meeting Financial Inclusion goals
  • Demographic results reveal that even BOP consumers show a clear ability and willingness to pay for financial services (93% living on daily income of less than 10 USD), with young, urban men are driving growth



  • BOP consumers can and will pay for financial services – 54% living on under US $2.50 per day
  • Tech-savvy consumers aged 18-35 will drive growth
  • Women still underserved, making just 36% of the base as are rural communities


Mobile Financial Services vs.  Traditional channels

  • Between 75 – 95% of respondents only able to access insurance via mobile
  • The creation of a digital payment channel is game-changing innovation;  85% prefer to pay via daily deduction from PAYG airtime credit


Urgent need for regulatory clarity

  • MFS oversight is unclear with services falling between multiple regulators
  • Regulation designed for traditional products restricts innovation required to reach the unbanked e.g. use of mobile phone numbers
  • Mobile operators have a new role as a force in financial inclusion, but must work with expert partners to ensure effective delivery to and protection of these vulnerable consumers


Mathilda Ström, Deputy CEO of BIMA said “The results of this report show that the emerging consumer will leapfrog traditional providers to enter the formal financial services market through digital channels. Mobile Operators must recognise the responsibilities of their new position as leaders in financial inclusion by working with regulators to develop an environment that supports innovation to open up access for all.


“Insight into the emerging consumer remains decidedly limited, which is why we are happy to share the results of this study. We believe that data like this will spur innovation in products and distribution models that work for low-income families”.


Cynthia Gordon, CEO of Milicom Africa (Tigo), commented on the study “Financial services represent a huge opportunity for mobile Operators in emerging markets. We’ve learned that customers need education in addition to a convenient and affordable way to register and pay for products. We believe that innovative use of mobile technology, coupled with strong distribution partnerships, are the best way to deliver financial services responsibly”.