Challenge timeline:

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Julius Matovu, Research and Programme Coordinator, Ali Ndiwala, Research Lead and Toru Mino Product Development Lead, AppLab Money Incubator discuss the ideas and opportunities which emerged from the insights gotten from data related to financial behavior of Ugandans. The insights were quickly translated into a problem statement from which the challenge question was born.

Posted on April 13, 2012

Finance aggregation, animal finance and social networks are some of the overriding themes that emerged from an ideation session at AppLab. Insights from financial behavior data findings from a range of sources, presented Applab Money the opportunity to think about a question; How might we use existing pools of data on customers to make appropriate credit available to rural clients? ‘Keeping in mind that almost all rural Ugandans are tied to the same cycle of economic flows namely;

  1. Crops
  2. School fees and
  3. Christmas

Posted on April 13, 2012

Posted on April 06, 2012

Jan Chipchase and Olga Morawczynski ask: what if bankers were service designers?

Posted on March 21, 2012

Ignacio Mas and the AppLab Money team publishing the first of three blog posts talking about savings as a deferred payments mechanism - me2me - on

Posted on March 19, 2012

Olga & Lisa talking about a new product idea on the CGAP blog - lottery insurance.  Why not make insurance "fun?"

Posted on March 12, 2012

During our ideation session, we culled through the research and identified key problem statements to tackle through new products:

How can we help users accumulate lump sums…

  …but ensure that they are accessible only when needed?

  …that will allow them to address certain + non-negotiable goals?

How can we help users smooth income and expenditure during the year as well as address deficits that may arise?

How can we design affordable, on-demand credit products?

What kind of product could allow users to improve their financial position and enable them to access their cash when needed?

How can products increase trust in formal financial institutions?

How can a product improve customer loyalty for MTN in an increasingly competitive environment?

How can we make it easier for the poorest to afford handsets
and airtime?


What new products do you think we can design that addresses one of these problems?  Let us know through the challenge!

Our first challenge has launched!  Looking forward to seeing the great ideas that come through.

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True or false: Farmers spend up to 80% of cash earnings on school fees.  (Yup, it's true, according to some folks we talked with in Mbale!)

Posted on February 22, 2012

We talked with another person today who is what Ali calls an “agent on the fringe.”  In villages that lack MM agents, some individuals conduct transactions on behalf of others through their own personal MM account.  Today Yiga Joseph, a bike repairman, said he conducts roughly 10 withdrawals and 5 deposits a week, servicing 20 people.

How many other agents on the fringe exist in Uganda?  And what might that imply about how many people actually use mobile money, but aren’t formally registered?

Posted on January 21, 2012

During focus groups, we saw that people found the concept of sending money to themselves - me2me - very intuitive.  They "got" it!

Posted on January 11, 2012

[Product feature testing, take 2]:

Q: When considering rewards, do people prefer a small amount that is certain (e.g., 2000UGX) or the option to win a lot (e.g., a lottery)?   

A: Most participants said they want it early, even if it’s small.  A respondent clarified: “Let it be 200UGX, let it be 2-what, but let it be for sure!”  [Note: 200UGX is about 8 cents USD.]

Posted on January 11, 2012

[Product feature testing, take 1]:

Q: Do people prefer cash or in-kind rewards or incentives?   

A: Turns out everyone wants cash, even if it’s a small amount.  As one man said: “When you have money you can buy sugar – but when you have sugar…” it’s not the same!

Posted on December 05, 2011

Richard Mwami, Head of Public Access and Mobile Money at MTN Uganda; Toru Mino, Consultant, Technology Program at CGAP; and Stephen Rasmussen, Technology Program Manager at CGAP, go to work during our first idea brainstorming session:

Lisa Kienzle, Ops & Strategy Manager for the Incubator, explaining some of her ideas: 


Posted on December 02, 2011

AppLab Money Incubator and Toru Mino of CGAP visited SAGE (Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment) recipients in Fort Portal.  SAGE recipients are individuals in Uganda identified as either vulnerable or elderly, and they receive a distribution of 23,000UGX each month to an MTN electronic wallet they access through a SIM-enabled ID card.  A few findings from the discussions with vulnerable recipients:

-For many, this is the first time they have received regular cash income

-7 out of 35 in a group owned a mobile phone

-Many started forming a savings group after receiving the money so they could each have an opportunity to receive a "lump-sum" payout periodically vs. small amounts consistently

-Many here preferred credit to savings - preferred a loan now to pay back over time with interest to the idea of saving up slowly to reach a goal  

-Trust was built very quickly in the SAGE system - by the third transfer, recipients felt money was safer in the system (i.e., on the e-wallet) than stored at home

What could this mean for MM product development for SAGE recipients? 

Posted on November 18, 2011

After our workshop to define the criteria we'll use, we codified our innovation process and the approach to filtering ideas that we will take at each step: 


Posted on November 01, 2011

Gabe White, our design consultant from Small Surfaces, helping us identify the criteria we'll use to identify the top ideas coming out of this process: