Responsible digital financial services

Technological innovation is enabling financial service providers (FSPs) to increase their outreach enormously through the provision of digital financial services (DFS).  The positive implications for increased financial inclusion through DFS are tempered, however, by the potential risks to client protection.

For example, can we be sure that clients understand the products they are using, when they receive those products without face-to-face interaction with the FSP? Can we be sure that the clients' have a channel through which they can provide feedback, or register complaints?  The resources on this page explore the intersection between social performance management and DFS. 

Guidelines and toolkits

The Digital Credit Guidelines

The Digital Credit Guideliness developed by the Smart Campaign to evaluate how well financial service providers adhere to the client protection principles when using digital business models and providing digital credit options to their clients. They were released in June 2019 and are a building block for the development of Digital Financial Services Standards being developed now by SPTF. Available in Spanish here

A Guide to Digitalization

This Guide offers FSPs step by step recommendations for how to launch digital financial services for their clients, including creating a transactional website, an App, and a digital wallet. The Guide includes detailed lists of the functionalities necessary to implement these steps, which should help FSPs ensure that their technology providers understand the specifications they need to reach low-income clients. Available in Spanish here.

UN Principles for Responsible Digital Payments

The Principles advocate for responsible practices in the digitization of payments. They are not intended to provide a technical analysis of what each Principle, such as transparency, means in practice. In 2016, the Responsible Digital Payments Guidelines (RDPGs) was the first publication to chart a fairer and swifter route to financial equality. In 2021, the Responsible Digital Payments Guidelines were comprehensively reworked and updated. Key additions include: • Women are recognized and prioritized • New technologies are dissected and assessed • A stronger user lens examines all aspects of digital payments • Insights and experiences are pooled and shared. These revised principles advocate for who needs to be responsible, what it means to be responsible, and how to be responsible.

Digital Financial Services Risk Assessment For Microfinance Institutions: A Pocket Guide

This toolkit aims to assist FSPs to understand the risks and corresponding mitigation strategies associated with DFS in general, and with the diverse business models available for providing these services. It acts as a condensed and accessible resource for FSPs and provides quick looks into major risks related to digital transactions that most FSPs would face in their daily operations. It highlights both medium and long-term threats, and helps identify and gauge both the likelihood and potential negative impacts of each risk. The risks are presented in easy-to-read tables and figures for a quick reference on whether DFS is an appropriate fit for a provider or not. It also aims at helping FSPs in being successful in their DFS delivery. It also summarizes issues and lessons learned from FSPs that have implemented DFS.

Responsible Digital Credit

Responsible Digital Credit outlines the digital credit landscape and the risks customers face, and examines the best practices, standards and initiatives that exist or should be implemented to improve consumer protection in digital lending. It will take a village to ensure that digital credit clients are protected—including governments, regulators, industry players, advocates and consumers themselves. He sees three key activities: 1) industry self-regulation, 2) certification of digital credit providers, and 3) directly empowering consumers, as key to the future of what responsible digital credit looks like.

Handbook on Consumer Protection for Inclusive Finance

The Handbook presents updated and revised guidance for consumer financial protection regulators organized around the Smart Campaign’s Client Protection Principles (CPPs). It expands upon a previous document, the Client Protection Principles: Model Law and Commentary for Financial Consumer Protection (Model Legal Framework) to reflect updated digital credit standards from the Smart Campaign, new and emerging guidance from international organizations and collaborative working groups, and consultation with a broad range of experts regarding the unique characteristics of digital financial services (DFS), with an emphasis on digital credit.

Client Protection in the Business Correspondent's Model

This tool examines the key processes of the Business Correspondent Model and discusses how to  protect clients throughout the process.

Reports, Presentations and Case Studies

Tiny Loans, Big Questions: Client Protection in Mobile Consumer Credit

The Smart Campaign is working with mobile financial services providers to examine emerging consumer risks. This brief enumerates and discusses emerging consumer risks posed by instant small mobile loan products, and uses the Client Protection Principles as an organizing framework.

CGAP presentation on client protection and DFS

This presentation offers a perspective on Consumer Protection and emerging risks in digital financial services from Bangladesh, Uganda, Colombia, and the Philippines. It was presented at the fifth Responsible Finance Forum (August 2014).

Technology Inequality: Opportunities and Challenges for Mobile Financial Services, by Leon Perlman, PhD 

This report was presented through a webinar with the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion in May 2017. The purposes of the report are to determine whether the core technical components of the MFS ecosystem interact well with one another, to identify pain points for MFS, and legal and regulatory issues, and to motivate providers, vendors, regulators and other key stakeholders to improve upon existing devices, system security, and the regulatory environment for effective access to MFS. 

Musoni Case Study on the Introduction of Digital Field Applications (DFAs) in English and French, by ACCION 

The objective of this study is to explore the impact of digital field applications (DFAs) by examining the business case, implementation process, and effects at Musoni, a financial service provider in Kenya.  Musoni’s key objective in implementing a DFA was to reduce loan turnaround time and thereby increase loan officer productivity as well as improve customer service.

Making digital credit truly responsible - Insights from analysis of digital credit in Kenya, by MSC

With funding from SPTF’s RIFF-SSA/MENA, MSC (formerly MicroSave Consulting) conducted a comprehensive study in 2019 on the state of the digital credit landscape in Kenya. The report highlights some positive signs and some persistent problems, as well as opportunities to improve products and consumer protection.

Responsible Digital Transformation - the case of Hermandad de Honduras in English and Spanish, by Raúl Gómez-Velásquez S.