Leaf Customer Case Study: Augustin
Customer Name: Augustin Byishimo
The number of people forcibly displaced from their country of origin has increased from 36.4 million people in 2009 to over 86.5 million people at the beginning of 2021 according to data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Some of the countries with the highest numbers of displaced citizens are Syria, Afghanistan, Syria, and the Central African Republic.
Most of the responsibility for hosting refugees globally is borne by developing countries. Rwanda is one of the countries in Africa that hosts refugees. This vibrant nation is generating strong economic growth in different sectors, lifting residents’ financial status and security across the board. At Leaf Global Fintech, we pride ourselves on supporting Rwandan citizens and refugees in Rwanda by helping them safely store and transfer money across borders with a touch of a button. Backed by blockchain technology, Leaf ultimately creates an economic identity that customers can use to establish themselves in a new country.
We spent a sunny afternoon with one of our customers, Augustin Byishimo, to understand how Leaf continues to impact his life and those of his friends and family.
Augustin has been a loyal Leaf customer for over five months. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 2020 and is currently interning at a reputable institution in his community. He was introduced to Leaf by a Leaf agent who visited his community to educate people about Leaf. He has been able to use Leaf daily to transact and to support friends and family in Rwanda and across the border. Leaf has helped Augustin save time and money by giving him the ability to send money with a touch of a button from anywhere instead of going physically to an agent.
“I mostly use Leaf to send money to my friends and family who live in Kenya,” Augustin stated when we asked him how Leaf is meeting his needs.
One exciting account Augustin shared was the time in which his sister was planning a wedding in Kenya. He advised her to download Leaf so that he could send her money with ease. She gladly did and Augustin shared how sending his sister money via Leaf was very affordable and easy. Such personal stories encourage the Leaf team to continually offer the best to our customers. Our aim is to help each of our customers to meet their financial, business, and personal goals.
Affordable and Accessible
Refugees are 50% less likely than the general population to have an internet-enabled phone. Moreover, there is a gender gap in digital access, with women in low and middle income countries being 23% less likely to use mobile internet than men. This is why we at Leaf have prioritized making services accessible to people even without smartphones or data. Leaf is the first cross-border digital wallet to offer all our services over USSD so that non-smartphone users can access their money with ease. As an avid Leaf user, Augustin commended this unique offering, stating this will help a lot of his friends and family at home who do not have smartphones.
Augustin reported that his experience with Leaf has been great. He is very pleased that Leaf-to-Leaf transactions are free, giving him the ability to send money to his friends and family who use Leaf at no cost. Even for those without Leaf, Augustin can pay a small cash out fee and send directly to any mobile money wallet in East Africa, regardless of network or country.
Trust and Human Connection
Augustin pointed out that at the initial phases of learning about Leaf, his main challenge was differentiating Leaf from other platforms. He needed to understand the added benefits of using Leaf over money transfer platforms in Rwanda. With the help of our trained field agents, Augustin was educated on how Leaf helps customers save time and money, giving them the power to focus on important things in life. Augustin stated that he felt very comfortable registering for Leaf with his ID, as the agent helped him through the process. The agent took the time to explain the registration process and why documentation is needed to keep the platform safe and secure from potential bad actors.
Augustin was able to fully understand what Leaf does, how to use the platform, and the benefits of Leaf from one interaction with one of our sales agents. Through marketing materials like flyers, the company website, and financial education delivered via SMS, Augustin is constantly learning more about Leaf and the impact the company is making in the lives of refugees and cross-border traders. Augustin’s takeaway: “Leaf is very easy to understand and use.”
One of Augustin’s initial fears about using Leaf was the possibility of losing access to his wallet if he forgets his password. This was mitigated when our sales agent informed him that password reset is actually quite easy. He can do it himself by verifying his identity through multi-factor authentication without needing to visit an agent or call for support. Though this is standard for most modern products and services, password loss can still be a big hurdle in Africa. Leaf’s customer base typically does not expect to be able to manage this issue on their own. While we always encourage users to solve their own problems using features we have built into the product, all customers can receive assistance by reaching out to our customer support team if they experience issues with their wallet.
Knowing that trust is extremely important to our customers — especially when it comes to their money — Leaf offers a range of support mechanisms. Customers can always receive automated support through the app and over USSD and can reach our customer support team over the phone and email. Leaf offers limited in-person support in certain communities.
Through his daily use of Leaf, Augustin has uncovered the benefits of Leaf over other digital financial services platforms. He was quick to highlight that he loves how secure the Leaf wallet is. After some initial hesitation before understanding how the wallet works, he now trusts Leaf and has done many successful transactions. Leaf’s advanced identification system ensures that no one can access your Leaf wallet except you. When looking for a way to store and transfer money, security was one of Augustin’s top priorities. This is what made Augustin choose Leaf over other wallets in Rwanda.
“I love how Leaf is secure, guaranteeing that the person I am sending money to is the correct one and that they will receive money instantly.”
We asked Augustin to describe Leaf in his own words. “Leaf is a platform that helps me send, save, and receive money with friends and family, locally but also globally.” He added that Leaf helps him meet his goals since he uses the platform daily. “Through Leaf I have been able to save my money, helping me to manage my money well.”
Feedback and Improvement
We always strive to improve services and survey customers each month to solicit feedback. As part of our interview with Augustin, he encouraged us to expand our product education efforts so that we can reach even more people. This is especially true in rural areas in Rwanda and border locations where digital solutions often fail to reach. Augustin shared with us how his friends and family were excited to start using Leaf when he introduced them to the platform. This type of word-of-mouth, organic referral is particularly effective in tight-knit communities and is a large part of Leaf’s growth strategy. Augustin affirmed that he will continue to easily recommend Leaf to his colleagues and neighbors.
Augustin’s favorite Leaf features are sending money and buying airtime. When asked what advice he would give someone considering Leaf, he responded, “Leaf will help you reduce the risk of losing your money if you’re a refugee, trader at the border, or living anywhere in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. Leaf does this by enabling you to make payments instantly and safely through the Leaf app or regional USSD codes.”
Leaf has enabled Augustin to be more efficient and productive. Augustin credits Leaf with enabling him to stop wasting time running to agents when sending money to friends and family. With money in his Leaf wallet, he has the ability to send, save, exchange currencies from the comfort of his home. Augustin reported appreciating this aspect of Leaf since he keeps a busy schedule. Even loading money onto the wallet is done completely digitally through Leaf’s integrations with mobile money. Leaf does not deal directly with cash in any way. Digital-first services are on the rise globally and represent a large opportunity to significantly impact people’s lives.
Promoting refugees’ economic inclusion and financial health is critical. Refugees have been hit especially hard by the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, compounding their already vulnerable livelihoods. Structural barriers should be addressed in tandem with the deployment of products like Leaf so that refugees can improve their financial health while benefiting from access to affordable and customer-centric products and services. We at Leaf aim to serve all customers with dignity in order to enable economic security, regardless of nationality, immigration status, age, gender, or other factors that so often influence a person’s ability to access the latest and greatest in financial technology and services.