Research for Global Development

Research Approach and Methodology

FII Research Approach and Methods

The FII research program has two primary functions: :

    1. Conducting robust measurement of key demand-side market indicators and more general market trends that can be broken down by key demographic, geographic and behavioral criteria, comparable across different countries; and
    2. Providing a breadth of end-user-focused insights to identify the barriers and facilitators of sustained adoption of DFS in countries at varying stages of maturity.

Research will be conducted in eight countries in Africa and Asia:


A number of factors informed the particular research strategy and the design of the research instruments for each country:

  • The Gates Foundation’s Financial Services for the Poor (FSP) country action strategies and consultations with FSP staff
  • Consultations with various financial inclusion stakeholders in the eight countries
  • Regulatory context
  • Market development
  • Population size
  • Emerging and dominant transaction channels
  • Range of active digital financial deployments
  • Identification of focal areas to provide deeper insights to drive growth (e.g., leveraging Esusu savings groups in Nigeria, or digitization of worker salaries in Bangladesh).


Quantitative Survey Research

The FII Market Tracker Surveys

Nationally representative surveys provide measurement of access and use patterns in mobile and digital financial services, as well as basic insight into why these patterns exist and what might influence their future evolution.

At a national level, sample sizes, based on the most recent and available population estimates for adults aged 15 or older, are set at levels which will allow statistically significant analysis of notable population segments (such as by region, gender, age groups, poverty level, and digital financial consumer type).  Data quality control is rigorous to ensure accurate measurement so that FSP and other stakeholders base their decisions on sound evidence.








A significant benefit of national surveys is the range and depth of possible data analysis, particularly as the surveys are repeated over time and provide trend data. For example, in  the recently completed Tanzania Mobile Money Tracker project, InterMedia tracked the evolution of DFS usage patterns among various demographic and geographical groupings. This gave mobile operators in Tanzania a granular view on triggers and barriers to use.

India is the only country where InterMedia will conduct sub-national surveys, in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. These surveys follow the same sampling principal as national surveys, albeit for a state within a country.

Summary of Survey Sampling and Methodology Principles



Qualitative Survey Research

Qualitative research adds value to quantitative data by going beyond the what to better explain thewhys. This will lead to better information about how to – that is, how to guide DFS development in a positive direction.

“Putting clients at the center” is a predominant theme in the development of DFS and other services intended to help the poor. Qualitative research does just that, providing a voice for intended beneficiaries. The typically less formal and less structured qualitative research environment frees the participant and the moderator from a rigid Q&A format, prompting unanticipated insights as the conversation flows. This is particularly valuable in the formative stages of planning interventions and in environments where conditions (i.e. product mixes, regulations, demand trends) are changing rapidly.

FII Consumer Experience Monitors – Understanding the Agent Experience

In most countries, we are conducting a combination of mobile money agent interviews, “mystery shopping” exercises (in which researchers pose as mobile money users or potential users, at agent outlets) and exit interviews with agents’ customers to provide a triangulated analysis of the customer/user experience. The hypothesis for this battery of research is that if a customer’s needs are understood well and are able to be met by agents and the DFS they offer, then there is a better chance for consumers’ use of digital financial services and products on a sustained basis. In particular, this research addresses the critical issue of converting registered users into active users, and preventing active users from becoming lapsed users.







FII Consumer Experience Monitors – Consumer voices

Consumer focus groups allow FII researchers to obtain important insight on consumers’ financial habits, needs, perceptions and expectations in order to inform DFS development, marketing, commercialization and distribution networks. In particular, the consumer discussions differentiate between current users of DFS, non-users and those who did use DFS but no longer do so – lapsed users. This produces more customized insights for mobile operators, regulators and others to help guide their efforts.



FII Deep-Dive Studies – Zeroing in on Key Issues by Country

These customized studies take various forms depending on the subject matter and goals


* Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme — a program which guarantees at least 100 days of paid employment per financial year at the statutory minimum wage to adult members of any household willing to do manual work related to rural development 
** Refers to agents able to disburse cash in exchange for electronic payment credits, and vice versa