Insurance Financial Inclusion Thrives in Africa with MicroEnsure

Financial Inclusion in Africa

Financial Inclusion for the poor in Africa

What if you could purchase life or health insurance free from your wireless carrier or bank as easy as buying a ring tone? This may be the ultimate insurance financial inclusion tool in Africa and elsewhere.

Buy X  mobile minutes or deposit Y money in your bank  to obtain cost-free insurance.  Customers can opt-in by punching a short SMS code into their mobile phone in response to an ad.

The Banking Association of South Africa defines financial inclusion as:

“Access and usage of a broad range of affordable, quality financial services and products, in a manner convenient to the financially excluded, unbanked and under-banked; in an appropriate but simple and dignified manner with the requisite consideration to client protection. Accessibility should be accompanied by usage which should be supported through the financial education of clients.”

Insurance Financial Inclusion thrives in africa

Richard Leftley,CEO, MicroEnsure

In this first podcast interview series about insurance financial inclusion, Richard Leftley, MicroEnsure CEO, candidly describes the company’s mission, beginnings and extraordinary growth. The company has seven million people under its insurance coverage and expects ten million by year’s end.

In 2007, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation began funding MicroEnsure. The company went public three years ago and now offers life and health insurance for medical emergencies, funerals, fires, livestock death and crop loss. Paying claims takes 72 hours max.

The company promotes itself through mobile SMS/texting, TV, radio and billboard advertising.  Inbound call centers cross-sell when customers call. Agents roam key markets. MicroEnsure accounts for its success by making the sign-up process simple.

Insurance Financial Inclusion Micropayments Spreading Worldwide

The company operates in 16 countries with millions of new customers and service providers adopting MicroEnsure’s creative marketing strategy: Use banks, insurance companies and mobile operators as partners that offer financial products at no or low-cost. When charging customers for extra services, think micro-payments that are affordable.

Convince customers to use more air minutes and make larger bank deposits. Then upsell/cross-sell. For example, families opt in to free life insurance for the husband. Then, based on increased deposits, offer customers an upgrade for $1 a month for additional coverage.

MicroEnsure’s operator partners benefit as customer loyalty increases through reduced market churn.  This reduces customers changing  SIM’s in their mobile phones which increases customer ARPU’s.  Partners invest only 3% of revenues and receive 10% back.

Richard Leftley Background

Leftley was a successful businessman in London. During a vacation, he took a vacation to Zambia where he stayed with a poor family. The husband developed HIV and required  much of the family’s money for his care. They lost their home and lived out of a car when he died. Richard wondered why poor people didn’t buy insurance. Was it me cost? A lack of understanding of life insurance’s benefits?

Richard left his job to work for Opportunity International in Chicago. Opportunity International provides savings, small business loans, insurance and training to more than 5 million people working their way out of poverty in the developing world. Clients in 22 countries use these financial services to expand businesses, provide for their families, create jobs for their neighbors and build a safety net for the future.

“Fire in Your Belly”

During our interview Richard talks humbly and persuasively about banks, insurance companies and mobile operators taking a “leap of faith” to improve financial inclusion. CMO’s must be convinced in their guts that MicroEnsure’s work is necessary and can generate profits for its partners. “We must not lose focus on why we’re doing this…we need to affect people’s lives.”

He talks about an event that brought him to his knees in Bangladesh. When children get sick, the government is supposed to supply health care, but doctors aren’t there. When he visited the country, one woman lost her child who grew sick. She went to a non-profit mission clinic; but payment was required up front. She ran back home and sold everything she had only to return to the clinic and find her dead child. Richard sat in the slum saying “I can’t stand by without an answer and do nothing…You must have ‘fire in your belly.’ I’m going to do something about this.” He joined the financial inclusion movement and  left his job to make a difference.

He feels fortunate to have a connection. “It’s too easy sitting around and worrying about the problem without doing anything. This work forces you to be imaginative about the world’s problems.” “MicroEnsure has had to fail a lot…It’s worth doing”

Further Reading Richard Leftley Interview – Microfinance Insurance Member Latest News About MicroEnsure

Note: Richard Leftley,  one of the global financial inclusion pioneers, will be featured in Carol Realini’s forthcoming book: Financial Inclusion at the Bottom of the Pyramid. See her Facebook page for more information.

Carol Realini’s Blog

Mobile Payments Growing in Africa, India and the U.S. (Podcast Interview)

Mobile Drices Replace Mobile Devices

Mobile Drice, a better name for mobile device

Someone had to do it. End the obscure, growing problem of mobile devices. Yes, no more $600 smartphones should be called “devices.” Instead, mobile drices is the distinctive name.

Some people will ponder the word and turn it into “damn good rice” or “Dr. Ice.” But I refuse any longer to refer to a masterpiece of wireless technology as something you might buy at Home Depot. (By the way, I immediately got the domain “”)  So you can’t have it. Sorry.

Good Product Names Come from Words that Don’t Exist

After my “Eureka moment,”  I immediately posted to Google+.  In less than 30 seconds, I dominated page one for “Drice.” Ah, take that, you SEO freaks. Then I researched the term, the best method to choose domains after you’ve bought one. The Urban Dictionary says Drice is related to smoking pot as in “Dude I just bought an eighth of the finest chronic we have got to get a drice on the go.”

Media Drices Reflect the Nature of Mobile Phones

It started to look good. 21,700 indexed hits. Surely the word had a following. Darn, I got beat out by some nitwit on the Linksys support site who complained about “WAG 160 Drices Me Crazy!” Clearly, here was someone who can’t spell correctly. found three anagrams of drices:  “ciders,” dricers” and “scried”–all good replacements for mobile drices in case the name doesn’t take off.  How would you like a “Mobile Cider,” “Mobile Dricer” or “Mobile Scried” in your pocket?

Mobile Phone Names Used to Have Sex Appeal

But I think if you’re going to replace product names  you ought to do  it with names that sound “right.” I complimented phone manufacturers several years ago by coming up with alternatives to mobile devices. The carriers released phones with great names like Escapade, the Nokia Twist and the HTC Imagio.

In another post, I suggested functional names like PEA (Personal Entertainment Assistant),  the PNA (Personal Navigation) and PTA (Personal Teaching Assistant). Alas, the industry ignored me and kept mobile device.

So we ended up with “smartphone devices,” “tablet devices,” “smart devices,” “wireless health devices” and more.

This time I do hope the industry adopts mobile drices instead of continuing on the mobile devices road to Hell.

Mobile Content Consumption Exploding Globally

Mobile Content Consumption or Rotary vs. Smartphones

Mobile Content consumption from a rotary phone?

Mobile content consumption is growing explosively worldwide. Mobile device users continue demanding increased written, audio, video and multimedia content.

Never before in this century has a communications medium raised the information and entertainment bar. Mobolites want mobile content of all sorts, and print, broadcast and cable isn’t providing it.

But traditional media sources are trying their best to enter the Internet/mobile arena, a place where consumers create and desire content made for smartphones, tablets and hybrids. It’s like American Idol. Millions of people vote for their favorites.

It’s not that people don’t want to watch television, listen to radio or read magazines. They do in large numbers. But mobile users of all ages are heading online expecting to find a better experience, greater engagement with sports, news, weather, music, books, magazines and media yet to come.

It’s mobile media, which is and which will far out shadow “multimedia,” whatever that means. Perhaps mobile and multimedia will morph into “cross-media,” a place in time and space that takes you from listening to Pandora on your smartphone to an article about a music artist in Slate to a Yelp review of that musician’s favorite vacation spot. Mobile content consumption is integrative, combining new and innovative ways to experience life.

Mobile devices have become like blue whales and other animals who must constantly eat or die due to their high metabolism. Try taking away someone’s smartphone or tablet today and prepare for a fight. Mobile users are addicted to communicating and receiving content from friends, social network sites and mobile publishers.

Mobile Content Consumption: Personal, Private and Shared Experiences

One blogger wrote in 2006 before the age of smartphones, apps, 4G and social networks:

“The personal nature of the information that is transmitted, received and stored in the heart of the mobile phone profoundly alters our relationship with mobile technology. The association of the phone with intensely private communications has helped imbue the device with a sense of intimacy.”  This intimacy extends from social networking to mobile marketing. Creating this intimacy is the key to increasing mobile content consumption of blogs, social networks, forums and chat rooms. It’s Google glasses and Pebble Watches.

As many MobileBeyond podcast guests have pointed out, there’s little difference between business and consumer mobile content users. Experts point out that every person–whether an IT Manager or Facebook user–consumes mobile content. It’s only the nature of the content that changes. And, in most cases, business users are the same as consumer users. They’re engaging in social media sites and watching YouTube videos just as much as any mobile device user.

Solving Your Mobile Content Needs

Companies today must address consumers’ mobile content consumption needs. If they’re not reading your blog (do you have one?), they’re reading your competitors’ blogs and content.

Suggestions for Engaging Web Readers:

  • Make sure your blog or website is viewable on mobile devices. Helpful sources are GTMetrix and WebPageTest.  You can test the download speed of any of your blog or website’s desktop and mobile pages on these two remarkable and free sites. GTMetrix, in particular, gives specific suggestions to WordPress users how to improve both desktop and mobile site speed which will increase mobile content consumption.
  • Make sure readers engage with your mobile content. Write friendly and understandable posts and articles of interest to your readers.
  • Consider adding audio, video or multimedia to your site. Always measure how content affects your download speed within the U.S. and globally. Investigate Google PageSpeed, MaxCDN or other content delivery networks to accelerate your website’s page download speed.  As your download speed increases, mobile content consumption will follow. Most Web users today will only wait 2-3 seconds for a page to download before leaving your site. Mobile page responsiveness is key to getting and keeping viewers.
  • Use Google Analytics, Facebook and other stats  to measure mobile content interest. Remember that 60% of Facebook users access Facebook using mobile phones.
  • Some Facebook and other social networking site users have restricted their mobile content consumption because of privacy concerns. Address these issues with your mobile Web users. Create a dialog and encourage feedback.
  • Use your web hosting company’s malware tools or subscribe to other services. Mobile phone malware and mobile security, as people turn from PC’s to mobile devices, are becoming big issues.

If you need help, MobileBeyond offers content creation , Facebook and Twitter page set-up as well as WordPress website services. We also make recommendations and referrals to vendors who can solve most mobile app or website issues. Contact us for more information.


BYOD Enterprise Mobility Challenges in 2014

This post is sponsored by Good Technology

BYOD - Bring Your Own Device - Mobile at Work

Courtesy of Education News


If mobile seers a decade ago (2004) predicted that CIO’s in 2014 would spend $1.5 billion on BYOD Enterprise Mobility, they would have quickly contributed to Wikipedia articles and retired. 

BYOD Enterprise Mobility Background

Well, no one did, until 2005, when “BYOD” (bring your own device) appeared  briefly in print. In 2009, Intel noticed employees were connecting their devices to its corporate network. Then in 2011 Unisys, VMware and Citrix Systems began discussing BYOD more formally. Wikipedia offers an interesting history of MDM called “Enterprise Mobility Management” that summarizes the business reasons behind the growing changes to come.

In 2013, Gartner released the latest mobile vendor assessment model called the “magic quadrant.” This simplistic four box tool shows Gartner’s vendor ratings in the MDM market broken down as “niche players,” “visionaries,” “challengers” and “leaders.”

After release of the document, Gartner received criticism from Novell and other would-be vendors who were left out of Gartner’s review. CIO magazine, however, believes the Magic Quadrant is useful for identifying the roles of key BYOD enterprise mobility industry players.

Enterprise Data Value is a Key Asset

MDM Growth and Acquisitions Coming

2014 will be a year of massive acquisition and growth. Gartner forecasts the mobility software market will jump from $784 to $1.6 billion year-over-year. Air-Watch, recently purchased by VMware for $1.6 billion, is only the first of  many to come.

72% of IT managers plan to spend 20% of their budgets on mobility. Good Technology, a major provider of mobility solutions, along with others, is a key player.

But that’s required in the world of BYOD Enterprise Mobility. Mobile workers want their choice of smartphones, tablets and other wireless devices for business and personal use. Meantime, IT managers must set protocols to control worker handset access of corporate data. Ken Khouri of IBM Global Security commented on this critical issue during his MobileBeyond podcast.

CYOD May Temper BYOD Revolution

The “bring your own device” to work has grown exponentially since smartphones became as necessary as  desktop and laptop computers. However, a compromise between IT and workers may be CYOD (choose your own device). CYOD allows workers to select a compatible mobile device provisioned for corporate servers.

During a ZDNET Asia-Pacific Roundtable this year, IT managers discussed how CYOD could satisfy the personal and business needs of enterprise mobility workers. This seems like a fair trade-off especially if the business is funding the cost of hardware and software.

Pope Francis says Internet is "Gift of God"

Recently, the Pope proclaimed that the “Internet is a gift from God.” Of course, he meant the God of the New Testament, full of hope and good tidings to come. When the Pope learns about mobile security challenges, he’ll probably quote from the God of the Old Testament, then madly scream as he runs down the halls of the Vatican.

This post is sponsored by Good Technology

Mobile Phone Staring Rising Says Study

Mobile Phone Staring Study by MobileBeyond Researach

People increasingly stare at their phones while doing nothing

MobileBeyond Research, a subsidiary of this blog’s parent company, has recently discovered that mobile phone staring in malls, at school, while eating lunch—yes, even during corporate boardroom meetings–is increasing rapidly. Mobile phone users spend most phone hours each week staring blankly at their phone screens.

Mobile Phone Staring Study

MB researchers loaded 50 mobile applications and browsers on Android and iOS phones. For one week researchers followed 100 smartphone users from early morning until late evening, while observing smartphone behaviors of three user types: “Mobile Intensives,” coined by Joe Liuzzo, famed consumer behavior analyst who’s appeared three times in MobileBeyond podcasts, “mobile moderates” and “mobile casuals.”

The intensives presented the greatest challenge since they continually jumped from apps to websites, texted quickly and rarely wrote emails that were readable. Intensives also had the highest level of multitasking among the three. MB researchers found it easier to monitor moderates than intensives, but harder than casuals, who used their phones infrequently and at odd hours.

MB researchers divided the 100 users into the three mobile users: those who can’t put their phones down, others who use their devices half of their waking hours and the least interested in mobile, the moderates, who would just as well watch Judge Judy on TV than play with their phones.

Researchers defined “staring” as users “looking at their phone screens without doing or reading anything.”  This is similar to staring at a wall in your doctor’s office waiting to be called, what one researcher called “mindless ocular syndrome” (MOS). 

Researchers first observed this behavior in the 1970’s watching children and parents  staring blankly at television screens. Studies revealed that “TV staring” caused participants to forget everything they watched, including TV commercials, greatly distressing the advertising industry.

Study Procedure

Using stop watches, MB researchers calculated the time spent on each mobile activity for a week. This includes periods of “brain pauses” or mobile staring. Researchers attached electrodes to each participant’s prefrontal cortex to measure brain activity.

Below is the number of hours spent on each phone activity vs. mobile staring. (Average calculations are cumulative for phone use and staring.)

  • Changing phone settings  = 5.2 hours
    • Staring blankly at screens after making changes = 2.4 hours
  • Playing mobile games = 4.8 hours
    • Stopping with no cognitive activity while playing games = 1.3 hours
  • Texting. Time spent sending and receiving texts = 8.6 hours
    • Pausing between texts without brain activity = 3.4 hours
  • Selecting and listening to music = 4.3 hours
    • Staring at phone screens without doing anything = 1.4 hours
  • Taking and viewing phone camera photos = 3.2 hours
    • Eyes focusing on camera controls without taking any action = 1.3 hours
  • All social networking (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) = 5.4 hours
    • Mindlessly glaring at phone screens with low prefrontal cortex activity = 1.1 hours

Total Mobile Activity Hours = 31.5 Hours
Total Mobile Phone Staring =  10.9 Hours

MB Researchers noted that in a typical week, mobile phone staring averaged 10.9 hours, significantly higher than texting, one of the most popular phone activities. Researchers said that all phone users should watch their total mobile phone staring time to protect their eyes from strain and their brains from understimulation.

Further Reading about Mobile Phone Staring:

Staring at your cell phone waiting for a message” (Facebook)

Samsung Ad Challenges Passersby to a Staring Contest” (Video)

When You’re with Someone Who Keeps Staring at Their Cell Phone

San Francisco Commuters Missed a Murder by Staring at Their Phones

Why Your Eyes Hurt After Staring at Your Smartphone

* This mobile phone staring research summary averages responses of the three mobile groups. To obtain specific data to each mobile behavior type, please submit $4,399 to MobileBeyond’s PayPal account (info [at]

Enterprise Mobile Security Market Blossoms

This Post is Sponsored by Good Technology

Enterprise Mobile Security Market Challenges to IT Managers

Enterprise mobile security growing rapidly. Can the industry meet the challenge?

The enterprise mobile security market is expanding rapidly, yet faces unforeseen growth challenges. Adding BYOD to the picture gives CIO’s heartburn due to rapid mobile technology changes and the dynamics of the  mobility market.

Life Before the Mobile Storm

Less than a decade ago,  IT management managed a few mobile devices, most notably the BlackBerry phone. In partnership with RIM, the devices, IT and users had few problems with messaging applications on corporate servers. So much for RIM and BlackBerry, whose fall from grace reduced RIM from an acknowledged giant to a minor industry player.

Mobile Storm Surges Ahead

But as Ken Khouri of IBM Global Technology, pointed out in a recent MobileBeyond podcast, BYOD is pervasive within the enterprise mobile security market. The adoption of the iPhone, Android and other mobile OS devices is an unstoppable ocean wave that will engulf ill-prepared companies. 

Corporate vs. Personal Data on Mobile Devices

Monitoring sensitive data on mobile handsets,  however,  requires expertise.  Today’s smartphone workforce user downloads and deletes dozens of commercial apps for personal pleasure, yet wants immediate access to company data to maximize productivity.

The Enterprise Mobile Security Market

Convincing workforces, IT staff and other stakeholders about the need for mobile and mobility security procedures is the most critical organizational challenge. The threat of data breach or financial loss to workers and companies is too threatening to avoid MDM and BYOD planning.

Example of Enterprise Mobile Security Solution

Other MobileBeyond Articles and Podcasts of Interest

Mobile Anti-Virus Software from AVG Keeps You Safe

Smartphone Mobile Security with John Hering of Lookout

Mobile Privacy and the Loss of Wireless Security


This Post is Sponsored by Good Technology

Google PageSpeed Service Gets Web Users High

Google PageSpeed Service
There’s Web speed and then there’s Google PageSpeed Service.

In our cloud computing,  social media and mobilized age, content may be king. But loading blog and website  pages quickly is Queen. Viewers, we’re told, leave slow sites within 3-4 seconds if Web pages don’t finish loading. Mobile website users stay for a couple of extra seconds; then they’re gone.

Web page speed is one of the most critical factors for business success as technology improves. Mobile Web page performance is equally important, as mobile devices dominate  the Internet experience. Savvy IT managers need to have this need in mind to compete in a global Internet world.

Content Marketing vs. Web Speed

Content marketers advise writing  great content.  But it’s Google and other service providers who also recommend delivering content faster than a jack rabbit in heat. Google’s elephantine foot keeps Webmasters on their toes following best practices for css, html, java and browser optimization.

Google PageSpeed Service, W3 Total Cache

Google PageSpeed Service, a CDN service couples with W3 Total Cache, a WordPress plugin,  giving bloggers and webmasters and end-users Maserati speed and multimedia streaming. Although the PageSpeed service and plugin are free for small users now. Google will eventually sell PageSpeed. PageSpeed is now by far the premiere service for testing Web page performance, while W3 Total Cache is the preferred caching plugin by WordPress experts.

Note that Google PageSpeed Service now integrates with Google Analytics for both desktop and mobile website data. Marketers can now measure the relative performance and differences between the desktop and mobile Web experience.

Another reliable optimization tool for desktop and mobile websites is GTMetrix which also offers a WordPress plugin that periodically measure website and blog performance. YSlow, a similar tool, is also available from Yahoo as extensions for Chrome, Firefox and other major browsers.

Here is a screen shot of MobileBeyond’s test from Virginia done on the WebPageTest site (settings on test end = Cable 5/1 using Chrome). The page renders in .6 seconds.

MobileBeyond Before and After Optimization with Google PageSpeed Service - Desktop

MobileBeyond Mobile After Optimization with Google PageSpeed Service – Mobile

Google PageSpeed Service boosts MobileBeyond’s performance three-fold over CloudFlare, MaxCDN and other solutions.

MobileBeyond ScreenShot – Download from Tokyo in less than One Second

With PageSpeed, MobileBeyond’s home page downloads under a second in Tokyo.

CDN’s (content delivery networks), such as Google PageSpeed, Edgecast, CloudFlare, Amazon CloudFront, boldly advise clients to speed up their sites or face audience loss.

Mobile New Media