Technology for Financial Inclusion: Supporting financial management in low-resource settings


Team Members:  Jacki O'Neill, Apurv Mehra, Udayan Tandon, Srihari Muralidhar, Ding Wang, Sambhav Satija, Anupama Dhareshwar, Ayushi Srivastava, Santosh Kale.


Scaling Partners: Three Wheels United


This project was done in collaboration with several MFI and NGO's in the space of financial inclusion. We conducted several ethnographic studies to understand the prevalent problems in the space of micro-finance and formal banking and how hundreds of millions of people still do not have access to formal credit. We worked closely with several organizations and conducted detailed ethnographic studies to uncover the problems still leaving millions of people marginalized from the formal banking sector. We came up with technology interventions which can support the process of financial management by empowering the intermediaries.

We reveal how we designed a novel mobile phone-based application for loan management in a resource-constrained setting. In this setting, a social enterprise manages auto-rickshaw loans for drivers, taking charge of collections. The design was informed by an ethnographic study which revealed how loan management for this financially vulnerable population is a daily struggle, and loan payment is a collaborative achievement between collectors and drivers. However, drivers and collectors have limited resources to-hand for loan management.

To address this, we designed Prayana, an intermediated financial management app. Prayana shares the principles of many behavioral change technologies, such as education, motivation, nudges, but is designed for users with a range of print, technical, and financial literacies and embodies the core design sensibility of enhancing users’ agency. Furthermore, it does not put the onus solely on drivers to better manage their money, instead it aims to enhance the collaborative work of loan management, supporting both the drivers and collectors.

We later expanded the scope of the work to add a first of it's kind community centric application for drivers and a backend which supports data-driven decision making.

Press and Publications

  1. Apurv Mehra, Sambhav Satija, and Jacki O'Neill. 2017. Prayana: A Journey Towards Financial Inclusion. In Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD '17). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, Article 26, 1–5. DOI:

  2. Apurv Mehra, Srihari Muralidhar, Sambhav Satija, Anupama Dhareshwar, and Jacki O'Neill. 2018. Prayana: Intermediated Financial Management in Resource-Constrained Settings. Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. DOI:

  3. Udayan Tandon, Lavanya Siri, Apurv Mehra, and Jacki O'Neill. 2019. Designing a financial management smartphone app for users with mixed literacies. In Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD '19). DOI:

  4. Srihari Hulikal Muralidhar, Claus Bossen, Apurv Mehra, and Jacki O'Neill. 2018. Digitizing Monetary Ecologies: Intended and Unintended Consequences of Introducing a Financial Management App in a Low-Resource Setting. Proceedings of the ACM (CSCW, '19)  DOI:

  5. O’Neill, J., Dhareshwar, A. & Muralidhar, S.H. Working Digital Money into a Cash Economy: The Collaborative Work of Loan Payment. Computer Supported Coop Work 26, 733–768 (2017).

  6. Media Coverage [HashedIn][Diode]