Cross-posted in the FOMIN Blog.

You may think you’ve seen it all, but you’ve never seen anything like Living Wallet. This product concept from a team of Japanese designers is taking savings and control to a new level.

The idea behind Living Wallet is that even though it’s difficult to save, a well-designed product can help you maintain your savings goals when temptation calls. The wallet is linked to a phone app that tracks your bank account balance. When your balance dips and you reach for your wallet to purchase something, the wallet literally runs away from you and evades your hand. If you’re quick enough to catch it, it begins to scream and cry for help. Finally, if all else fails, the wallet places a phone call to your mother, who will hopefully guilt you into keeping that money in your savings account. As the website notes, it’s always hard to go against your parents.

Sadly, Living Wallet isn’t on the market yet, but even if smart wallets don’t end up being the next big thing in savings promotion, the designers make an interesting point about the ways that product design can work to improve client outcomes.


This is the story of Miguel and surely of many other microentrepreneurs that use financial services in the region and dream of a better future. I heard this story from Miguel himself, as he drove me to the airport following my presentation at Foromic on commitment savings and what microfinance clients want. Miguel let me know what he wanted.

Miguel at 43 years old is a taxi driver in Guadalajara. He does not own the taxi he drives. Each day he pays roughly US$26 to the car’s owner, whether he uses the car or not. His wife Alejandra is a bookkeeper and is just starting to work. Miguel’s family has been growing; he has three children and the two eldest want to have their own room. Years ago Miguel purchased some land which he now wants to use to build a house.


In a blog post published back in august 2012, we spoke about how the MIF and the Access to Finance Unit of Chile’s Ministry of Social Development were elaborating a methodology for diagnosing and measuring financial inclusion. As we move forward in designing a financial inclusion survey – with the support of the Analistas Financieros Internacionales (AFI) consulting firm and the team lead in charge of the Ministry’s National Socioeconomic Characterization Survey (CASEN) – we are closely monitoring other efforts to measure financial inclusion in the region. One of the questions that come up is how to ensure that the measurements we conduct are comparable to existing results?

Let’s take a look at Mexico. Over a year since the world Bank published the results of its Global Findex survey, we have come to know the results of the first National Financial Inclusion Survey (ENIF) conducted by the National Banking and Securities Commission of Mexico (CNBV) with the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI).

According to Findex’s survey data (conducted by Gallup in 2011), Mexico was lagging behind in different financial indicators for Latin America and the Caribbean. For instance, only 7,6% of adults were reported to have a loan at a financial institution, placing Mexico behind countries like Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Bolivia. Nonetheless, the data published by ENIF placed Mexico ahead of these countries for this particular indicator, with 27,5% of the adult population receiving credit from a formal financial institution – 20 percentage points above Findex’s figures.

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