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The Human Account is a segmentation that provides rigorous data,

deep qualitative insights, and a holistic framework for understanding people’s financial lives.


It unlocks the stories of the globes’ most underserved customers and reveals opportunities for financial service providers to create better, more relevant products for these untapped markets. 

Three-dimensional framework


To better understand these emerging customer markets

and people’s financial lives, we developed a three-dimensional

research framework, revealing the contextual, behavioral, and psychological dimensions of their financial lives.

Understanding of people grounded in financial health


We grounded our approach to customer segmentation in the concept of financial health, recognizing that it enables us to generate a more realistic and actionable understanding of financial lives than is possible using a product or inclusion lens. 






What are the socioeconomic characteristics of my users?

Age, gender, household

context, education, sources

and amount of income, and

asset ownership


How do my users act?

How individuals plan and

prioritize their finances,

shape income and expenses,

build reserves, and cultivate receivables


Why do my users act as they do?

People's sense of control,

self-efficacy, openness, trust, optimism, conscientiousness,

and dependability

Why go beyond financial inclusion

and start with financial health?

We believe products and services designed to strengthen people’s financial health are more salient and valuable in the eyes of customers, expand markets and ultimately maximize customer lifetime value for providers, and are more likely to drive the human development outcomes we seek. 

People are financially healthy when they are able to use financial tools and strategies to effectively and consistently to:

resilient in 

the face of 

financial shocks

meet their

basic needs


financial and economic opportunities

Process & Methods


concept of financial health, recognizing that it enables us to generate a more realistic and actionable understanding of financial lives than is possible using a product or inclusion lens.


How can we ground the data

in a deeper understanding of

people's real lives and behavior?

A key differentiator of this work is its integration of methods from multiple research and analysis traditions—such as human-centered design (HCD), cognitive psychology, behavioral science, and large scale survey-based market research.

Initial HCD was crucial for understanding the context of people's financial lives, including their challenges, aspirations, strategies, and personalities. Through this research, we developed models for understanding people's financial lives and identified key contextual, behavioral, and psychological variables for measurement in subsequent national surveys. Using this structured and comprehensive HCD-research, our integrated team of researchers, designers, and strategists produced explanatory models, robust user profiles, and our segmentation survey instrument. These profiles provided an unprecedented in-depth look at participant's financial lives that grounded our data analysis and brought our segments to life.

The design of the foundational HCD research included many activities, from household financial mapping to scenario-based provocations. The learning agenda was:

  1. Contextual elements that shape financial lives

  2. Deeply felt needs driving behaviors and strategies

  3. Financial behaviors and strategies that people deploy in pursuit of financial health

  4. Psychological characteristics that underpin people's values, preferences, and financial decisions

HCD Research


How can a survey capture a more holistic picture of people's context, behavior, and psychology?

We created a global survey tool that comprises of contextual, behavioral, and psychometric variables. Each survey was adapted to country contexts, including local nuance on media, cultural norms, and financial service provider input. We used a rigorous, stratified sampling method to achieve a nationally representative pool.

Our instrument includes contextual questions that go beyond demographics, for example exploring financial decision making roles within households, and examines financial behaviors beyond the use of products and services, including people's financial priorities and plans. Our psychometrics draw from academically proven survey questions and experimental questions we designed. All were tested and refined by the Busara Center for Behavioral Economics to ensure fit for emerging market contexts.

Survey Design


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Data Collection


What are the most insightful relationships for categorizing and predicting people's behavior?

To identify the segments in each country we used data analytics and behavioral and decision making models we developed through human-centered design research.

We identified clusters with similar characteristics based on K-medoids approach, which groups respondents based on common survey responses. We used our contextual, behavioral, and psychological models to interpret descriptive and regression analysis of each cluster, thereby surfacing and describing segments.

We then overlaid profiles of representative individuals from each segment that we developed through in-depth HCD interviews to enrich the segment with real world examples.

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Cluster Analysis

a preliminary algorithmic sorting based on common survey responses



How can we tailor offerings

to better support people's

varied lives and experiences?

The ultimate goal of this work is to ensure that the insights garnered from segmentation inform real-world work of financial service providers, policy makers, regulators, and development actors.
These stories, statistics, and insights are starting points.
They should complement tailored research and inform design and investment decisions. As such, each of the segments include: insights, opportunities, product, channel, and messaging design principles.
For India and Kenya we also developed a set of segment-specific, white label product concepts.

Our data can be used in a variety of ways by development actors and financial services providers:


Expansion of our research to other development sectors

Use our approach to test the impact of development programs on individual's context, behavior, attitudes, and financial health.

Evaluating impact on development interventions

Use our data and approach to better understand other areas of interest such as gender, agriculture, and entrepreneurship


Segment-aligned digital financial products

Develop products that speak to the needs, aspirations, behaviors, and personalities of segments (e.g. by combining information on segments with a HCD sprint).

Rapid Customer Intelligence

A mini-questionnaire to rapidly segment existing users to deepen customer insights and improve design and uptake.

Data Matching

Match our data with call records and transaction data of mobile network operators to learn how different segments are using each provider's products and services.

Next Steps


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