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SMS Reminders To Improve Bank Agent Performance

State and Development Partner

Multiple States,

IDinsight

Problem

Agents are frontline workers for financial inclusion and face many constraints including poor management, heavy task load, and non-remunerative compensation packages. These hurdles can often slow down their pace to acquire more customers for pro-poor government financial products like Atal Pension Yojna (APY), Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojna (PMJJBY), and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojna (PMSBY).

Conventional Solution

While government-sponsored financial inclusion schemes exist, oftentimes large sections of the unbanked rural population remain uninformed or uninterested in these schemes. Posters and national advertisements on TV and radio have informed but not succeeded in increasing enrolment substantially. Agents provide interpersonal communication to enrol customers by educating them about financial products and assisting in the process, however, agents often feel deflated by the many on-ground challenges.

Behavioural Insights Based Solution

Behaviourally-informed SMS reminders were rolled out to test the efficacy of this tool in improving performance of banking agents (BCs). These SMS reminders tested what kind of behaviour-framing works best on BCs. SMSs act as reminders as well as reinforcers. These SMSs were framed on three different behaviour principles and rolled out through a randomised control trial to test which framing works best. The first was based on the principle of supervision, where messages were aimed at letting the agents know they are being monitored; the second type of framing focused on encouraging prosocial behaviour which draws on positive messaging around sharing, co-operating, volunteering etc.; and the third used incentive framing.

Lesson

It was found that SMS reminders with a threat of monitoring increased enrolments by BCs, but only when material incentives like prizes were present and when agents are associated with banks that have a supportive culture.

Source : Stories of Change from India's Aspirational districts - NITI Aayog publication

Last Modified : 9/28/2022



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