Messenger Bots in Financial Education

Interactive Digital Tools at the Base of the Pyramid

**This is Part 4 of a series on the Myanmar microfinance industry and the development of new and innovative Financial Education tools for microeneterprises. Financial Literacy education has been historically weak in Myanmar, so Opportunities NOW has joined with USAID to respond to this burgeoning need.

To read the previous articles on the Myanmar microfinance industry, read Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here.**

Meet Maung Sa Yin Kaing, Mr. Finance, the new Facebook Messenger financial education interactive bot of Opportunities NOW.

Start a conversation with Maung Sa Yin Kaing by clicking below:

Maung Sa Yin Kaing can tell stories. He can nudge individual users with well-timed reminders. He can learn user behavior and prompt the user with suggestions for problems they are facing in their businesses.

Here’s the thing, microfinance institutions care about financial education, but they can’t do much about it. MFIs rely on volume. They operate on a shoe-string budget. Margins are tight. This means anything they do needs to involve few staff with lots of customers. Their financial bottom line is key.

But financial education and entrepreneurship don’t really work that way. Being an entrepreneur requires critical thinking and the ability to respond to a multitude of potential problems. How to effectively manage money cannot be reduced to a series of lectures to the Base of the Pyramid (BoP). Financial Literacy involves abstract concepts, and is usually future-centric — not a problem that can be solved with a flipchart and one-way communication.

Loan officers want to support their borrowers, but the standard MFI workflow doesn’t allow for it.

Digital Tools for Enterprise Support and Financial Literacy

Over the last 8 months ONOW has been building a new approach to financial education in Myanmar. We embed brief and memorable financial messaging in the workflows of busy loan officers, we leverage narrative and game to put future entrepreneurs into the shoes of a business owner, and now we are building interactive digital tools that respond to the needs of business owners.

According to this study on financial education,

“Experience, rather than education, is at the core of improvements in financial capability”.

Experience is the key — not passive information transfer. Here are a couple of key concepts we have kept in mind that have motivated us in the development of Mr. Finance.

  1. Financial Education must be immediately practical and practicable to be useful to borrowers at the BoP. Concepts must be clear, concise, actionable and timely.
  2. Borrowers at the BoP learn best at Teaching Moments — major life events and pain points, i.e. when money is tight, when a family member is sick, when they need to make lump sum purchases, or when a loan payment is due.
  3. Well-timed nudges which take into account market realities, like common peaks and troughs in the cash flow of micro-enterprises, can mean the difference in the failure or survival of a business at the BoP.

Mobile Interactivity is a Must

Many new digital tools for financial education are being created globally, but few of them are interactive at the level necessary for the abstract concepts of finances and entrepreneurship. The most common approach involves a style similar to online university education, based in a website portal that typically requires access to a computer and an email address, and is mostly based on a methodology of content consumption. But financial management is about experience, not trying to mimic traditional education, as many online platforms do.

This approach simply will not work for Myanmar. Millions of people are coming online for the first time, having never seen a laptop or desktop computer in their lives. Mobile phones, and especially smart phones, are most often the first interaction Myanmar people are having with the Internet. And in most cases, Facebook is the Internet.

Maung Sa Yin Kaing is a early-stage product with much development still to come, but click through and interactive with this innovative tool! Read the story of Ma Aye Aye and help her make decisions in her family’s new grocery store business. If you have a loan, sign up for reminders before loan payment day!

Start a conversation with Maung Sa Yin Kaing by clicking below:

Or check out, like and share the FB page by clicking here:

And don’t forget to leave feedback!


A special thanks to the United States Agency for International Development for the support to build this innovative product. Thanks to EOS Group Myanmar and their excellent work in helping to develop the story of Ma Aye Aye and her family. Thanks to the Myanmar microfinance institutions Myanmar Development Partners, Proximity Finance, YWCA, and Entrepreneurs du Monde for providing loan officers and borrowers who have given great feedback and tested in the field.

**This is Part 4 of a series on the Myanmar microfinance industry and the development of new and innovative Financial Education tools for microeneterprises. Financial Literacy education has been historically weak in Myanmar, so Opportunities NOW has joined with USAID to respond to this burgeoning need.

To read the previous articles on the Myanmar microfinance industry, read Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here.**