EFInA Innovation Grant Round 8: Fostering new approaches to expand the uptake and usage of Digital Financial Services by the low income population in Nigeria
The deadline for the RFP is 6:00 pm on December 15, 2017

EFInA is pleased to announce its eighth request for proposals (RFP 8) for the Innovation Grant which focuses on fostering new approaches to expand the uptake and usage of Digital Financial Services (DFS) by the Low income Population in Nigeria.

Digital Financial Services is the application of advanced analytical technology and electronic channels to deliver better tailored financial products and services efficiently and more directly to a broader range of customers.

Digital Financial Services can be accessed via innovative technologies like mobile-phone enabled solutions, electronic channels and digital payment platforms.

Background The EFInA Access to Financial Services in Nigeria 2016 survey indicates that although 58 million adults own a mobile phone, mobile money adoption is exceptionally low and the financially excluded population remains high at 40.1 million adults (41.6% of the adult population). While usage of electronic payments channels has improved from 22% of the adult population in 2014 to 24.7% in 2016, this is still relatively low.

Digital Financial Services (DFS) predominantly focuses on leveraging technology to deliver mobile financial services and branchless banking to customers. In Nigeria DFS is still in the nascent stage with a primary focus on payment services. Some of the constraints to the development of Digital Financial Services include weak cell coverage, power infrastructure, slow product development, poor agent network liquidity and expansion and low awareness of customers.

Mobile phones provide an easy and convenient channel for the delivery of multiple financial services with significant transformative impact on the social and economic landscape. The most direct benefits of mobile money are convenience, ease of access, and speed, which generally lowers the cost of transferring funds. To date, awareness and usage of mobile money is very low in Nigeria. According to the EFInA Access to Financial Services in Nigeria 2016 survey, 15.7 million adults (16.3% of the total adult population) have heard of mobile money, whereas only 0.9 million adults (1.0% of the total adult population) are using mobile money services. Out of the 95.4 million adults (99.0% of the total adult population) who do not use mobile money service, 48.1 million of them own adults have a mobile phone and earn N50,000 or below per month. Expanding mobile money usage in Nigeria presents a real opportunity to provide financial access to the low income customers as well as address access to other social benefits and services. These include facilitating bill payments such as utility bills, hospital bills, insurance, school fees, pensions, as well as government-to-person payments, sending/receiving money, saving money and loan disbursements/repayments. EFInA is focused on leveraging digital financial services to deepen financial access to low income customers. The objective is to support providers to create accessible DFS products and services for the low income population addressing their key consumer values such as affordability, proximity, convenience and privacy when managing their finances.

EFInA is seeking to fund projects that will extend financial services to the low income population in Nigeria (defined as those earning N50,000 or less per month). Successful applications will provide a compelling use case that meets the needs of the low income population by offering different products through a range of channels and financial access points. Applicants are therefore encouraged to consider the relevance and affordability of the digital financial services offered.

Some of the DFS Solutions/electronic transaction channels required include Mobile Banking, Agent Banking, Internet Banking, Debit/Credit Card, Mobile Money, Point of Sales. DFS models usually requires a robust agent network to improve accessibility and lower the overall service delivery cost.

What is EFInA looking for?

  1. Applicants must have a track record of success for providing digital financial services
  2. Applicants must provide a strong business case that demonstrates how the proposed products/services and channels meet the needs of the low income population (defined as those earning N50,000 or less per month)
  3. Applicants must develop effective customer awareness campaigns that demonstrate the benefits of the products/services. and provide information on agent locations, if applicable
  4. Applicants must have the resources to match 50% of EFInA’s grant funding, the capacity to implement the proposed project and demonstrate sustainable impact within 24 months

Who can apply? Licensed Financial Institutions:

  • Deposit Money Banks
  • Microfinance Banks
  • Insurance Providers
  • Mobile Money Operators
  • Pension Fund Administrators
  • Applicants can form a consortium (e.g. can include an MNO, a Fintech, etc.) as long as it is led by one of the approved institutions

How much money does EFInA provide?

Size of Grant

$250,001 - $2,000,000

Applicant’s Contribution

All applicants will be expected to contribute at least 100% of the Grant awarded by EFInA. The Grantee’s matching funds may be used to acquire fixed assets or fund project staff at a disclosed rate and on a basis acceptable to EFInA for the purpose of the project

Eligible Expenditure

EFInA Innovation Grant funding can be used to cover the costs of:

  • Launching, rolling out and/or implementing a product, service or delivery mechanism that has been piloted, including:
  • Scale deployment of products/services
  • Training of agents
  • Technical assistance or special consultancy support
  • Market awareness campaigns and advertising expenses that are directly related to the project being funded and aim to improve awareness and financial capability/literacy of the targeted (low income) customer segment

Non-Eligible Expenditure

EFInA funds CANNOT be used for:

  • Subsidising the organisation’s general operations and staff related costs
  • On-lending to customers
  • Office relocation, branch infrastructure, general fixed assets
  • Advertising and marketing expenses not associated with financial capability/literacy or directly related to the project being funded
  • Obtaining a business operations license
  • Acquiring an equity stake in a new or existing business
  • Purchasing phones, tablets, or POS devices

Maximum Term of EFInA Grant Funding

24 months from the first disbursement of the Grant

Funding Conditions

The Grant is payable in quarterly tranches, with each payment linked to the achievement of pre-agreed key performance indicators (KPIs) set forth in the detailed project plan and Grant Agreement

How will EFInA evaluate the grant application? The following criteria will be used to assess all proposals:


Digital Financial Services for the Low Income Population


A. Viable Business Case
  • Is the proposed project backed by market research and data?
  • Is the business case for the proposed project sound and realistic?
  • Can the organisation provide a comprehensive description of the range of products/services/channels they will offer?
  • Is the customer value proposition clear? What are the benefits for the low income population?
  • If agents are utilised, is there a clear value proposition for agents?
  • Are the project timelines and targets realistic and achievable?
  • Has the organisation anticipated and sufficiently planned for project risks?
  • Has the technology that will be utilised been fully developed, tested, and piloted by the organisation?
  • Will the project achieve scale (in terms of number of customers served and agents recruited, if applicable)?


B. Capacity to Implement
  • Has the proposed project team successfully implemented projects of similar magnitude/complexity?
  • If partner organisations will be involved, have these existing partnerships worked together before? If so, were these projects successfully implemented?
  • Does the proposed project team have prior experience in successfully implementing a project that provides digital financial services?
  • Has the proposed project been successfully piloted, researched or implemented by the organisation?
  • Does the proposed team have experience in implementing financial inclusion related projects?


C. Developmental Impact
  • Do the proposed products/services provide a compelling use case for the low income population?
  • Do the proposed products/services have the potential to create new jobs for the low income population?
  • Geographic outreach (rural/urban)
  • Customer acquisition (banked and unbanked customers)
  • Customer acquisition (male and female customers)



D. Innovation
  • Does the proposed project offer a different product, service, or delivery mechanism from what is typically offered in the Nigerian market?
  • Is the innovation scalable to other regions in Nigeria?
  • How will the proposed project contribute to furthering the financial inclusion agenda in Nigeria?


E. Consumer Protection, Awareness and Education
  • Does the organisation have a strong customer service function? Will customer service be offered in multiple languages?
  • Can the organisation provide details on pricing, terms and conditions for customers and how they will ensure that they are fair and transparent? 
  • Does the organisation have an effective and efficient customer redress system?
  • Will the promotional materials be customised to the languages spoken by customers in the target areas?
  • How will the organisation ensure that the technology platform utilised is secure and consumer data is protected?
  • What is the plan for educating customers on how to access financial products/services; and for agents on the benefits of being an agent, if applicable?


F. Sustainability
  • Will the proposed products/services create customer behaviour change that will lead to continued usage?
  • Has the organisation provided evidence that it can continue to offer these products/services after EFInA funding has been fully disbursed?
  • Is the Board of the organisation committed to implementing this project (in terms of strategic direction, funding and other resources needed) for the proposed project duration?


G. Geographic Reach
  • Will the proposed project also lead to deepening financial inclusion among the low income population living in rural areas?
  • Will the proposed project lead to deepening financial inclusion among low income women?
  • Will the proposed project lead to deepening financial inclusion in the North East or North West geo-political zones?
  • How many Local Government Areas (LGAs) in each proposed state will be covered?


Completing your RFP 8 application All completed grant application forms, templates and required documentation should be submitted to the EFInA Grants Team at innovation@efina.org.ng by Friday, December 15, 2017. EFInA will only notify all applicants of the outcome of their applications by Friday, March 23, 2018.