This study reviews the current landscape of digital financial service offerings and regulations in India, and also brings forth demand-side perspectives on using these services.
The growth of digital financial services (DFS) has caused a paradigm shift in India’s financial inclusion landscape. Although digital finance can help overcome challenges associated with conventional delivery models in reaching more people at a much lower cost and greater convenience, the DFS market remains largely fragmented and there are knowledge gaps in guiding the operations of the industry, and limited evidence on the factors that influence takeup and expansion of services. As new products and services continue to emerge shortly, the digital landscape in India is likely to get increasingly complex. LEAD in collaboration with J.P. Morgan initiated this study to bridge the knowledge gaps in the understanding of the workings of digital finance in India, through a holistic supply and demand-side assessment of the sector.
This landscaping study, undertaken in collaboration with J.P. Morgan, aimed to understand the regulatory framework governing digital financial services, and generate evidence on demand-factors that influence the acceptance of DFS by end users. The study focused on 12 categories of consumers – based on gender, region of work (rural/ urban), age group, key patterns of behaviour and usage varying on the regularity of the groups’ cash-flow. In-depth quantitative surveys focus group discussions with consumers, and semi-structured interviews with service providers, were organised to understand consumers’ willingness and ability to use digital products.
As evidenced by the experiences of varied consumer segments, strategic partnerships between different institutions are key to addressing the diversity of capabilities and needs of the Indian population. It is imperative that financial service providers and technology solution providers collaborate with each other, as well as with civil society organizations and other community institutions such as self-help groups, skill training centres, resident networks and such, to create an ecosystem wherein the capacity and knowledge of each institution can be leveraged. These partnerships will help accomplish the twofold aim of achieving business goals, and more importantly, the larger objective of access to finance for all.