The most powerful thing a fintech can do is enable its customers to educate themselves, says Mukuru CEO, Andy Jury. He says formalised financial education obviously plays a crucial role in a fintech’s business, but customers that trust and repeatedly use a new product or service, such as a digital store of money, go through a natural learning process and are then more comfortable being exposed to more sophisticated products.

Mukuru, which is a next-generation financial services provider, started out as a remittance company and has evolved into a platform with a suite of different financial products and services. Jury says that by empowering its customers to teach themselves, Mukuru has enabled many thousands of unbanked and underserved people to access products and services from which they were previously excluded.

“I vividly remember logging onto internet banking for the first time two decades ago. There was a genuine sense of trepidation, especially because I was doing something new with my hard-earned money. Seen this way, it is evident that no matter how financially sophisticated we may be, we are all on a journey of continuous education,” explains Jury.

“The aperture of a fintech’s focus will change depending on the customers it is serving. However, the fundamental essence remains the same: The most powerful thing we can do as financial service providers is to enable our customers to educate themselves. It’s the parable about teaching a man to fish.”

Jury explains that there are two main streams in every fintech’s education strategy – the base layer of formal education and then the education that happens when customers use its products and services. “South Africa is a more financially digitised market for us than Malawi, for example. This means that the things we focus on change a little depending on the market. Whereas in Malawi we may do campaigns around keeping your PIN safe, in South Africa we may look at identity theft or education on loan or insurance products. Either way, there needs to be a base layer of understanding, access to knowledge and awareness.”

However, Jury says real education happens when people engage with a product and use it. “Financial education – which is vital for financial inclusion – is a thread that is woven into every engagement that we have with customers, because the vast majority of our customers around the world start out in an over-the-counter, cash world, which is unregulated. That doesn’t mean they are unsophisticated but it just means that they are used to transacting in a certain manner. When designing the education golden thread, a fintech needs to be sensitive to the fact that it will need to overcome an inertia of resistance born from a sense of trepidation. However, one can overcome this inertia by ensuring a product is accessible both in terms of solving the problems customers need solved, and by designing products in a way that they are likely to be used,” explains Jury.

He says that fintechs have a duty of care to ensure they provide customers with appropriate information. “In our case, we train the staff on all our channels, our contact centres are constantly going through training. We train the field ambassadors to make sure they can educate customers about the product. However, the biggest philosophical bent that we have in our own business is that we try, fail and learn, and by doing so we are constantly learning what our customers need and are able to design our education strategy accordingly.”

Jury says that when a customer starts using a product and his or her problem is solved, it creates a positive trust flywheel that then enables customers to learn and educate themselves over time that there are other services and products they can access on a platform they already trust. He says this is evident in the exponential growth of digital transactions on the Mukuru platform as it evolved from a remittance provider into a financial services platform.

“Three years ago, less than 40% of transactions managed on our platform were paid for using digital types of money. Today, that is more than 60%. This is crystal-clear proof that customers understand what they are doing, that they are comfortable doing it, and they trust our platform,” he explains.

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