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Digital Financial Sector Development: The India ACCEPT Program

Developing, Testing, and Implementing Digital Financial Services Strategies to Accelerate Access for the Emerging Middle Class.

There are multiple initiatives currently in the Indian market designed to strengthen and expand the digital financial services (DFS) sector and stimulate financial inclusion. These initiatives are developing different but complimentary focus areas, ranging from infrastructure, connectivity, and systems architecture, to operating models, product and service development, and user awareness and education (i.e., consumers, merchants, other institutional users).

In 2016, NetHope published original market research in India on the DFS sector and the emerging middle class (EMC) in markets outside Tier 1 urban centers. The report documented a need for experimentation and new concept development to serve the EMC segment in Tier 2-4 centers with DFS products they will use and value. To promote and accelerate the reach of DFS into these markets, NetHope joined forces with Visa to launch the India “Accelerator for Consumer Capacity in Electronic Payment Transactions” (ACCEPT) program following release of the market research.

Decoding the Unexplored Middle: A study on Digital Financial Services for the Emerging Middle Class
visit the case study page and download

In this program, NetHope is working with three DFS providers that have committed the additional resources and technical support necessary to create and accelerate the commercial delivery of DFS offerings to market segments that would not otherwise receive the same attention, but still represent a credible market opportunity. NetHope is collaborating with DFS providers on projects to develop and evaluate methods for building networks of active merchant acceptance points. By “active,” the India ACCEPT program means merchant acceptance points that support all aspects of the transaction process, including the user experience (for both merchant and consumer), to encourage sustained DFS transaction activity. This requires a holistic approach including implementation of:

  • Functioning hardware and software solutions
  • Adequate training on technical, operational, and customers service elements
  • Effective institutional management & support (e.g. signage, marketing collateral)

NetHope is supporting DFS providers to expand into these geographies and serve these customer segments, collaborating around three broad work streams: strategic, technical, and operational.


NetHope’s research provided insights on the evolving financial behaviors and attitudes towards DFS on the EMC customers and merchants in Tier 2-4 centers. The data collected provides a better understanding of the specific market segments, identities challenges to DFS adoption, and suggests strategies for DFS providers to capture the potential business opportunities.

Through the India ACCEPT program, NetHope is working with DFS providers to launch and accelerate implementation of projects that align with their commercial strategies and priorities and are targeted towards activating DFS acceptance points through deployment and use by micro, small, and medium merchants in Tier 2-4 centers. This includes:

MARKET RESEARCH: Leveraging our existing research on customers and merchants in Tier 2-4 centers and developing market insights.

USE CASE IDENTIFICATION: Using insights from the research to identify unmet needs; to identify what might translate into successful use cases and commercial opportunities for the providers.

DISTRIBUTION MODEL: Formulating and testing new distribution and channel strategies for specific customer segments and geographies.

PARTNERSHIP DEVELOPMENT: Connecting with others in the development and provider sector to form strategic partnerships across the DFS value chain.

MARKETING/PROMOTION: Using these implementation projects to showcase new products, services and ideas to multiple stakeholders. 


PRODUCT/SERVICE USE CASE DESIGN: Making informed decisions about products or service offerings to profitably cater to these segments.

PILOT LAUNCH/TESTING: Launching new ideas and approaches and work towards a broader commercial roll-out strategy. This includes project design, covering processes, labor requirements and technical specifications.




MARKET AWARENESS/EDUCATION/MESSAGING: Developing educational content, messages and trainings to better suit the needs and aptitude of customers and merchants in Tier 2-4 centers.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT: NetHope provided dedicated program managers based in India to provide assistance in project management, monitoring, and performance evaluation. 

Our thanks to Visa for supporting this initiative.



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Access the report: Decoding the Unexplored Middle


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