Women’s World Banking worked with Visa

In Nigeria, just 26% of women and 12% of low-income adults have formal bank accounts, according to a 2012 report from the World Bank.

The reasons for those numbers – which are well below worldwide averages of 47% and 24% – include a lack of convenient branch locations and cultural discomfort with formal banking, said Jude Anele, head of retail banking at Diamond Bank in Lagos. So Diamond Bank set out to lower those barriers.

Working with Visa Inc and global nonprofit organization Women’s World Banking, the bank created BETA, a pilot program aimed at signing up low-income locals – particularly women – for savings accounts. The bank sent out agents to collect deposits to make the process easy and to put a personal face on the institution. And it worked.

The program, which launched in April and is just wrapping up, was originally intended to enroll 16,000 people; it ended up creating 28,000 new accounts. More than 40% of the new account-holders were women. Now Diamond Bank is planning to roll out the program countrywide over the next six months.

“This is a great moment in history for technology to reach traditionally excluded populations,” said Women’s World Banking CEO Mary Ellen Iskenderian.

Read the full article on The Guardian.

Newslink: “Fighting poverty: Visa works to open more savings accounts in Nigeria