Financial inclusion of the rural poor can be difficult due to the costs of traditional banking models, but some banks have implemented a new model—a mobile bank on wheels—to offer financial services to the underserved and unbanked.
Mobile banking vans have launched in Uganda, Rwanda and the Philippines to offer the rural and underserved bank accounts, financial education and mircoinsurance to individuals and communities that previously had little access to financial services.
According to Global Envision, the poor often hide money at home when they have no access to banking services, often making money harder to save and less secure. Rural and underserved areas also encounter more risk every day, and individuals with money may be expected to help with family emergencies.
“The market reality is that people want bank services closer,” Tonny Miiro, the managing director of Uptime Solutions Uganda, one of the banks in Uganda that has launched mobile banking vans to reach rural residents. “That is what we are doing. It is important that government comes up with more policies that call for more inclusive bank services provided by financial institutions, as there is demand.”
Cebuana Lluillier’s Microinsurance on Wheels program, however, teaches potential policyholders about insurance in an effort to boost policy sales and allow the rural poor to avoid financial ruin in the event of a natural disaster.
“Ordinary people see ‘insurance’ as something that only rich people can afford,” Jonathan Batangan, Microinsurance on Wheels’ general manager, said. “We are offering ordinary Filipinos affordable insurance with the added benefits of accessibility, reliability and convenience.”
The Bank of Kigali in Rwanda uses vans to contact 50 percent of the population that is currently designated as unbanked and to increase the effectiveness of rural microfinance institutions that need additional deposits and withdrawals to service members effectively.