The past two decades have seen a phenomenal change in the adoption of mobile and digital technology in emerging markets. As a result, the sector predicts that the number of unique mobile subscribers will reach 5.9 billion by 2025, equivalent to 71 percent of the world’s population; yet, a more significant opportunity lies in mobile Internet reaching 61 percent of the population in the same period. Mobile technology can serve as a key accelerator and ensure no one is left behind.
Digital financial services such as mobile money and agent banking have reached scale due, in no small part, to initiatives led by the UNCDF that have connected 18 million people in Africa, Asia and the Pacific to the financial ecosystem. It is clear to us at UNCDF that digital finance is the primary route to financial inclusion. However, financial inclusion is not the end goal; it is a means to multiple ends. Meaningful digital financial inclusion has to provide outlets for low-income account holders to engage in the economy in order to meet their daily needs and to improve their skills, productivity and marketability in the digital-economy age. To do so, we must strive to make sure no one is left with just basic voice, messaging and mobile money services; everyone should be able to access, use and benefit from a broad range of meaningful services built on digital platforms. This report from UNCDF explores how digital financial inclusion is directly contributing to the emergence of digital economies, and vice versa.