The state department recently hosted a conference on Mobile Money that featured the who’s who in the mobile banking field including SOCAP10 attendees Accion and frog design Maria Utero, Under Secretary for Democracy and Global affairs and former CEO at Accion, opened the conference by discussing her experience at Accion working for the BoP. Her personal anecdotes and success stories with working in the community proved just how reliable the consumer base is at the BoP, and in fact, how similar the base of the pyramid consumer base is to the rest of pyramid.
Jan Chipchase of frog design followed her presentation with an in-depth look at product design for mobiles at the BoP. His initial premise behind BoP product design rested on simplicity – given that the majority of consumers at the BoP are illiterate, the product would need to be simple to use. He envisioned consumers using cell phones simply to answer calls (press the green button); he was quickly proven wrong in his field research. Despite obvious limitations, Jan discovered that the BoP consumer still maximized cell phone functionality, and despite being illiterate , the consumer could place calls and in some instances, exercise rote learning and reply to SMS texts. If the consumer couldn’t discern the SMS text, he or should would engage in proximity learning by going to a literate friend for assistance. The primary take away from this presentation: if the consumer at the BoP finds value in a product, he or she will find a way to use it.
-Blog By Kishor Nagula