Although financial services are rapidly going digital, some customers, especially those new to the formal financial system or with lower levels of education, may still desire to interface with people—to build trust, to troubleshoot problems, and to receive advice on their financial lives. CFI Fellows Shreya Chatterjee and Misha Sharma are teaming up to explore the question of effective human touch in digital financial services as India transitions to a digital age.
Despite significant progress toward digital financial inclusion in India, agents still matter for bringing low-income consumers into the digital fold.
In Agents of Change: How the Human Touch Is Bridging Digital Financial Services to New Customers in India, the Fellows discuss how frontline banking agents can advance both the adoption of digital financial services (DFS) and greater financial inclusion among the poor and unbanked. In the report, Misha and Shreya evaluate the factors currently shaping the adoption of DFS by emerging consumers in India and assess the crucial role that agents play in helping to successfully transition their clients to digital platforms. Specifically, while agents largely assist with product adoption and use, their value to the financial sector and the financial institutions they represent goes beyond these responsibilities—they are the key to building trust, resolving problems, and ensuring value for customers. The report also articulates the state of agent practice in India and outlines 10 principal insights on training, equipping, and promoting financial product awareness among agents within the three types of assessed institutions—commercial banks, payment banks and microfinance institutions.