A Structured Approach to Understanding the Financial Service Needs of the Poor in Mexico

  • Date Posted: June 1, 2012
  • Authors: Xavier Faz, Paul Breloff
  • Document Types: Primer or Brief
  • Donor Type: Multilateral Organization

Financial service providers have traditionally focused more on the supply side of financial inclusion than on the demand side. Undoubtedly, it is easier to measure the number of branches, total customers serviced, and aggregated portfolios rather than attempt to get into the messy business of poor and underserved customers' lives, businesses, and needs. However, we are starting to recognize the fundamental importance of working directly with customers to understand their financial habits and needs, as well as the role of finance in their lives. This brings a new perspective on the problem of financial inclusion: a deeper understanding of demand could be key to designing a more meaningful and sustainable offering, particularly as we realize how little we actually know.

Mexico is a middle-income country on the cusp of a significant transformation in the ways low-income and unbanked customers access and use formal financial services. Regulations now permit third-party correspondents to process transactions on behalf of banks, and a number of financial institutions and potential correspondent partners are looking for new formulas that marry the right products and channels to the needs of customers.