SIA provides technical expertise and operational support to guide clients in the design, development, and/or integration of digital payment and finance solutions and technical support services for a range of connectivity issues.
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DFS Agent Network Management & Capacity Building in Malawi
Since 2012, SIA has provided lead technical assistance on a three-year project designed to implement selected interventions from the Malawi Mobile Money National Action Plan, emphasizing pilots (e.g. civil servant salary payments), agent network expansion, and merchant acceptance. Key program elements include: 1) Design and implement primary field research to better understand relevant patterns, perceptions, and preferences of potential user segments in peri-urban and rural geographies; 2) support MNOs with market segmentation analysis and value proposition refinement to enhance agent and merchant acquisition activities; 4) Undertake geospatial mapping exercises to digitally plot service providers’ existing operational footprints relative to partners (e.g. MFI/credit union, Post Office) and potential service ecosystem participants (e.g. chain stores, merchants, distributors); and 5) Develop and deliver a web app-based data visualization tool that overlays supplemental field data collected specifically for the purpose of evaluating a given point’s agent or merchant acceptance potential.
Global Humanitarian Sector Portfolio Integration
From 2015-2016, SIA worked with OFDA, FFP and DFS teams from USAID to think through how USAID humanitarian programs can better influence the use of DFS within cash transfer programming. The work focused on four primary objectives: 1) developing the Barcelona Principles to help guide smarter more responsible usage of digital payments in cash transfer programming; 2) analysis of the DFS access point mapping activities throughout the world; 3) capacity building materials; and 4) pushing out a grant that funded organizational preparedness for digital cash transfers.
Digital Payments Migration for Smallholder Rice Farmers in Ghana
In November 2014, in association with ACDI VOCA and using funds awarded from a 2013 NetHope Visa Innovation Grant supported a rice value chain payment pilot. The project examined cash payments by farmers, input suppliers, and large buyers along the rice value chain. The work identified insertion points for digital payments. Specifically, pilot parameters were designed in coordination with TIGO Cash including agent network requirements and potential merchant acceptance points in rice growing regions. The project also helped establish monitoring and evaluation criteria.
Since 2013, SIA has provided technical staffing support for NetHope/USAID Global Broadband and Innovations Alliance’s digital financial services to promote the transition globally from cash to digital payments. Work includes outreach and training of USAID implementing partners on how to use digital payments and encourage market development in countries where USAID has a presence; support for knowledge sharing with USAID mission staff on DFS; and collaboration with USAID programs to promote DFS in humanitarian assistance.
Technical Assistance for Digital Financial Services (DFS) Globally
Correspondent Agent Banking Strategy & Low Income Banking Product Design in Haiti
In 2012 and 2013, SIA provided technical assistance to the second largest commercial bank in Haiti as part of an IFC funded project to design and pilot a correspondent agent banking network. The bank’s strategy was to leverage the existing network of its money transfer affiliate, which includes a range of agent types from commercial branches to store-in-store outlets and sub-agents (affiliated retailers and merchants), to provide alternative locations to conduct core banking and additional transactions (deposit, withdrawal, bill payment) via a card-based/POS terminal deployment. The project included four main phases: market study, product design and development, pilot planning and execution, and agent network expansion.
DFS Intervention and Program Design in Indonesia and Malawi
In 2012, SIA assisted USAID in developing mobile banking pilots and other sector level interventions designed to accelerate the adoption of mobile banking in Indonesia. The project involved a review of existing mobile network operator-led and bank-led mobile banking capabilities, discussions with potential users, (governmental and commercial and individuals), mobile banking demand model, identification of usage barriers, an assessment of potential partners, a regulatory analysis, and an action plan for a pilot and intervention.
In 2010 and 2011, SIA team members assisted USAID in developing sector level interventions to strengthen and accelerate a nascent mobile money ecosystem in Malawi. P roject involves assessing the mobile money sector and current operator capabilities, market demand analysis, coordination with Reserve Bank of Malawi, World Bank, and other stakeholders, and development of an action plan detailing intervention activities.
Market Engagement and Digital Payments Training for Development Organizations in Multiple Markets
Since 2011, SIA team members have supported NetHope and USAID to promote adoption of digital payments by NGOs through conducting digital payments ecosystem assessments in key markets (thus far Ghana, Cambodia, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, and Malawi for FHI360). In-market assessments cover local market conditions for digital financial services, vetting of service providers’ digital bulk payment products, creating business linkages between service providers and NGOs as a key customer segment for digital payments. Conducted case-based training workshops with NGOs on how to transition from cash to electronic payments within their programs and operations. See Zimbabwe case study example here.
DFS Adoption Among Commodity Traders & Smallholder Grain Farmers in Malawi
In July 2014, on behalf of the Better Than Cash Alliance (BTCA) chaired by the UNCDF, SIA conducted an in-country market assessment to determine the feasibility of integrating e-payments services into select Ag value chains to facilitate payments to smallholder grain farmers in Malawi’s Central Region. This assessment involved engaging and evaluating three types of potential user segments: individual trading company owners, permanent staff, and smallholder farmers. Feasibility was determined by examining: the business model and commercial strategy of owners; their operational footprints, cash management practices, transaction profiles, as well as staff capacity; and farmer perceptions, preferences and patterns of usage as they relate to mobile technology and financial services. SIA also developed a broader market research plan, to include focus group discussions with 200 farmers to better identify their perceptions, preferences, and patterns of behavior vis-à-vis receiving payments, along with a tailored field collection guide and tools. Finally, SIA drafted a market readiness assessment and pilot implementation plan.
DFS Payments and Agricultural Value Chains in Indonesia and Georgia
In 2012, SIA supported ACDI VOCA in developing DFS pilots that targeted farmers in three value chains (coffee, cocoa, and horticulture). The pilots focused on value chain inflection points where payments transitioned from electronic to cash. Included in the pilot designs was the identification of implementing partners and recommendations for potential agent networks. A key element of the pilots was the establishment of a DFS ecosystem including merchant acceptance points in the geographic areas in and around the targeted farm communities.
In 2011, SIA led a feasibility assessment to extend mobile financial services to select Agricultural Value Chains in rural Georgia. In collaboration with MobiPay Georgia and Mercy Corp Alliances Program staff, the feasibility assessment included: conducting a preliminary baseline survey of potential stakeholders (farmers, merchants, and institutional players) to gauge adoption and usage potential as well as map existing transaction patterns; evaluating the readiness of existing economic infrastructure for mobile financial services; identifying operational requirements (e.g. number and location of cash-agents); and modeling deployment cost projections.
Broadband Demand Aggregation Study in Liberia
In December 2015, SIA provided technical support to the USAID U.S. Global Development Lab in Washington DC and the USAID Mission in Liberia to develop a demand aggregation model for a proposed enhancement to Monrovia’s broadband network infrastructure. The model forecasted aggregated broadband demand for a variety of market segments (e.g., schools, hospitals, health clinics, government offices) that could utilize a Monrovia-based metro fiber ring as its primary middle mile connectivity provider. Analysis considered both public facilities eligible for USAID or other donor funding as well as commercial demand that would be enabled by the metro fiber ring.
MNO Mobile Money Launch Strategy in West Africa
In 2011, SIA team members advised a multinational Middle Eastern mobile network operator on the development of a mobile money strategy for six West African markets. Strategy included market analysis, business case development, product design, and operating requirements.
DFS Regulatory Analysis and Feasibility Study in Morocco
In 2012, SIA prepared a regulatory analysis and feasibility study on behalf of the German Ministry of Cooperation and Development, KfW, and the Moroccan State Investment Company, CDG, and its subsidiary JAIDA. Study assessed market potential for mobile innovations in the delivery of financial services in Morocco and designed business models and investment opportunities for the sector. SIA assessed potential partnerships based on strategic interests and institutional capacities and advised central bank and ministry of finance on liberalization of payment systems.
Spectrum Management in the US
In 2010, SIA team members supported Sprint and the Federal Communications Commission in rebanding public safety entities in the 800 MHz. This involved conducting spectrum-based economic valuations and interference analysis, promoting next generation mobile innovations both for more efficient use of bandwidth, as well as generating exponentially more traffic. Telecom regulators seek to optimize management of spectrum assets and encourage more efficient spectrum allocations.
Broadband and Rural Mobile Data Access in the U.S.
In 2009, through a contract with Booz Allen Hamilton, SIA team members advised the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) under the Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP) on the expansion of broadband access to rural underserved communities in the United States. SIA reviewed and assessed the technical and financial viability of applications in the 700 MHz band and in the context of LTE deployments. Analysis included a mapping of user requirements and system demand against proposed architectures.