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Can Big Data Shape Financial Services in East Africa?

The volume of digital data created by users on the African continent is growing. With this growth come new opportunities for alternative “big data” to catalyze an expansion of financial services to low-income and hard to reach populations. M-Shwari, the high
profile micro-savings and loan product developed by Safaricom and Commercial Bank Africa (CBA), has already achieved impressive volumes by capitalizing on this trend. Moreover, M-Shwari’s success demonstrates a business case for banks to leverage big data—in the form of mobile phone records and mobile money behavior—to expand low denomination lending.

This Focus Note summarizes how 30 leading organizations across Kenya and Tanzania are thinking about or actively using big data and analytics as they explore this space in digital finance. The findings are based on interviews with these organizations—which
include banks, microfinance institutions (MFIs), mobile network operators (MNOs), and FinTech organizations conducted between August and September 2017.

FiDA Partnership
The Mastercard Foundation Partnership for Finance in a Digital Africa (the “Partnership”) is an initiative of the Foundation’s Financial Inclusion Program. The Partnership catalyzes knowledge and insights to promote meaningful financial inclusion in an increasingly digital world. Led and hosted by Caribou Digital, the Partnership works closely with leading organizations and companies across the digital finance space. By aggregating and synthesizing knowledge, conducting research to address key gaps, and identifying implications for the diverse actors working in the space, the Partnership strives to inform decisions with facts, and to accelerate meaningful financial inclusion for people across sub-Saharan Africa.

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