SIDFS Product Innovation Lab: Revolutionizing Financial Product Development for Customer-Centricity

SIDFS Product Innovation Lab: Revolutionizing Financial Product Development for Customer-Centricity

SIDFS Product Innovation Lab

In the ever-changing financial landscape, meeting the needs of financially excluded individuals, especially those in the informal sector, is a pressing challenge. At SIDFS, we have embarked on a mission to bridge these gaps by introducing the Product Innovation Lab (PIL).

This groundbreaking lab is specifically designed to support product development teams of financial service providers (FSPs) in creating customer-centric financial products that cater to the unique requirements of excluded segments. It equally supports financial institutions’ product teams to tweak their existing products for enhanced performance in the market; or design, test, and launch new innovations.

In this article, we delve into the key features and methodologies employed by the SIDFS Product Innovation Lab, providing valuable insights into its transformative impact on the financial inclusion space.

Understanding the Challenge

Financially excluded individuals, often residing in remote or rural areas, face limited access to formal financial institutions and struggle with the absence of tailored digital products.  We recognized these challenges and set up The Product Innovation Lab with the aim of bridging the gap by partnering with innovative Financial Service Providers (FSPs) to develop scalable, human-centered solutions. 

By leveraging data, exploring new methodologies, and employing design thinking approaches, the lab seeks to equip FSPs with the resources required  to design, test, and launch new
solutions to the market for previously untapped customer segments create an inclusive financial ecosystem that lifts more Nigerians out of poverty.

The Pillars of the SIDFS Product Innovation Lab

1. Design Thinking Approaches: The lab utilizes design thinking methodologies to foster innovation and empathy in product development. By adopting a human-centered design approach, FSPs can gain deep insights into the behaviors, traits, and financial lives of the underserved population, enabling the creation of tailored solutions.

2. Toolkit Resources: The SIDFS Product Innovation Lab equips participants with a comprehensive toolkit consisting of various resources. Plenary sessions cover topics such as the designer’s mindset, behavioral economics, Nigeria’s financial inclusion landscape, and effective teamwork. Workshop sessions allow participants to collaborate, conceptualize, ideate, and design products using the Customer-centered design (CCD) Toolkit.

SIDFS Product Innovation Lab
Product Innovation Lab Participants

The Customer Centered Design toolkits consist of three phases: Prepare, Prototype, and Pilot. They guide FSPs in creating customer-focused products and services that meet their customers’ needs and aspirations while being commercially successful.

3. Datasets and Research: The lab provides access to rich datasets, including The Human Account, Persona Identification Toolkit, and Small Firm Diaries Research These resources enable FSPs to conduct thorough customer research, understand customer segments, and identify opportunities for product innovation.

SIDFS Product Innovation Lab

4. Post-lab Advisory: To ensure sustained success, the SIDFS Product Innovation Lab offers post-lab advisory services. Participants gain expertise in customer-centric design techniques, refining product concepts, developing minimum viable products (MVPs), evaluating commercial viability, and building business models. This advisory support empowers FSPs to navigate the complexities of product development and implementation effectively.

PIL Results and Impact

Since its inception in 2020, the SIDFS Product Innovation Lab has made significant strides in driving financial inclusion and empowering excluded segments. Seventeen (17) FSPs have participated in the lab, resulting in four (4)  successful MVPs and five (5)  ongoing product developments. 35,955 bank accounts have equally been added to the financial system with over 400 million naira loans disbursed.


Notably, three products have been specifically designed to enhance the inclusion and contribution of women in the financial lives of their households and communities. Unity Bank’s Unity Yanga, a woman-centric retail product, stands as a prime example, providing targeted financial services, including micro health insurance, to women-owned SMEs.

RELATED: Unlocking Financial Inclusion and Empowering Nigerian Women: Introducing the Savings Mobilization Replication Toolkit.

Benefits and Certification

The SIDFS Product Innovation Lab offers several benefits to its participants. Product designers who complete the lab receive certification, validating their expertise in customer-centric design techniques. Financial institutions that engage with the lab gain functional MVPs, enabling them to refine their product offerings and enhance their market competitiveness. By placing the customer at the center of the design process and leveraging design thinking methodologies, this lab equally empowers financial service providers to create inclusive, scalable, and impactful solutions for the underserved population.

With its comprehensive toolkits, research resources, and post-lab advisory support, the lab equips FSPs with the necessary tools to navigate the complexities of product development successfully. As the lab continues to drive innovation and foster collaboration between FSPs, regulators, and policymakers, it paves the way for a more inclusive and sustainable financial ecosystem in Nigeria.

If you would like to explore how your institution can leverage the Lab to achieve your product goals for the year, kindly reach out to our Learning and Engagement Manager, Eloho Iyamu  – to start the conversation. 

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