I was at a Thinkshop last week sponsored by UNCDF and UN Women on financial inclusion and women where we spent the greater part of a snowy day discussing how to better include women in the mobile financial services. Despite the promise of mobile services for providing women with convenient, hassle free transactions, according to data, including Findex, women are the ones least served by these products.We recently implemented some qualitative interviews in Kenya with a group of "excluded" women. They are excluded financially, economically, in terms of access to information and mobilization. Many of you already have a sense of who we are talking about. What we found interesting about their interaction with mobile services was that the value proposition was still low. More than any of the other groups we spoke to, these women were less likely to own their own phone, know their national ID number, or sign up for a mobile service without face-to-face assistance.
At the Thinkshop, representatives from GSMA noted that financial service providers offer services to individuals who buy SIM cards, which are purchased by providing the phone owner's name and ID. If a husband or father is buying the phone, the woman who uses it continues to be excluded from using financial services on it independently.
A simple question "do you own your phone?" can be a good place to start in order to understand the access and opportunity that a poor woman might truly have in mobile financial services. Adding questions about understanding and trust can come second.