Digital Frontiers

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Inclusive Digital Economies for the Sustainable Development Goals

As the world still struggles to confront the COVID-19 pandemic and its dire consequences, there is no doubt that technology has fundamentally reshaped our day to day lives. Technology has changed how children are taught, jobs are created, health services are delivered, traders do business, farmers get access to information, financial services are delivered, and…

Mobile Money Policy and Regulatory Handbook

Establishing an enabling regulatory framework can unlock the full potential of mobile money services helping to drive financial inclusion, reduce economic inequalities and improve employment and economic growth. Close public-private partnership can help drive the creation of such enabling environments. This Mobile Money Policy and Regulatory Handbook is part of the GSMA’s efforts to promote…

Solidarity in Saving

Between December 2020 and July 2021, CARE conducted interviews with saving group members as part of the Women (in VSLA) Respond sub-initiative. The sub-initiative is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and focuses on how women and girls in VSLAs in Burundi, Ethiopia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Uganda are affected by and responding…

Addressing Gender Norms to Increase Financial Inclusion: Designing for Impact

Gendered social norms are an inescapable reality shaping the lives of women around the world. To advance women’s financial inclusion and economic empowerment, funders and market facilitators need to acknowledge gender norms and understand how they limit women’s ability to access, use, and benefit from financial services. Ignoring gender norms can limit the effectiveness and…

The Climate Crisis: Mobile-Enabled Solutions in Humanitarian Emergencies

Digital and mobile-enabled services have a key role to play in addressing the climate crisis. Not only can they help vulnerable communities prepare for and become more resilient to climate risks, but they can also support humanitarian organisations to deliver aid more efficiently and anticipate their response. Divided into two overarching sections (mitigation and resilience),…

The Landscape of Microinsurance

Between 179 and 377 million people were recorded as covered by a microinsurance product in the 30 countries covered by the Landscape of Microinsurance 2021. This is estimated to represent between 6% and 14% of the target population of the countries studied. These figures represent a considerable increase from the previous year’s study, in which…

Developing Mobile Digital Skills in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Acquiring digital skills, and mobile digital skills, in particular, is critical for people in low- and middle-income countries to participate in a rapidly digitalising society. However, the GSMA’s The State of Mobile Internet Connectivity Report 2021 identified a lack of literacy and digital skills as one of the biggest perceived barriers to mobile internet adoption…

Central Bank Digital Currencies: Motives, Economic Implications and the Research Frontier

A growing academic literature examines the economic implications of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). The main focus is on their “reserves for all” aspect and the balance sheet issues for central banks, as well as the implications for monetary policy and financial stability. By contrast, in policy circles, the emphasis is on designing CBDCs to…

The Digitalisation of Money

The ongoing digital revolution may lead to fundamental changes to the traditional model of monetary exchange. Digital currencies facilitate instantaneous peer-to-peer transfers in a way that was previously impossible. New currencies that transcend national borders could redefine how payments and user data interact. They could affect the nature of currency competition, the architecture of the…

Gendered Financial Products Research

This research by FSD Kenya seeks to unearth the financial needs and demands of urban female retail traders in Kenya by exploring how their financial needs are being met, through which instruments, and in turn, where the opportunities lie to drive improved or increased access to financial products. The research: Explores the financial needs and…

What Does Digital Money Mean for Emerging Market and Developing Economies?

Physical cash and commercial bank money are dominant vehicles for retail payments around the world, including in emerging market and developing economies (EMDEs). Yet payments in EMDEs are marked by several key deficiencies – such as a lack of universal access to transaction accounts, widespread informality, limited competition and high costs, particularly for cross-border payments.…

Toward a Global Approach to Data in the Digital Age

Ongoing economic and financial digitalization is making individual data a key input and source of value for companies across sectors, from Big Tech and pharmaceuticals to manufacturers and financial services providers. Data on human behavior and choices—our “likes,” purchase patterns, locations, social activities, biometrics, and financing choices—are being generated, collected, stored, and processed at an…

Case Studies of Multisectoral Approaches to Integrating Digital Financial Services for Women’s Financial Inclusion

Despite the best efforts of regulators and policymakers in deepening financial inclusion, there still exists a nine percent gender gap in access to financial services in developing and emerging economies. This figure has remained unchanged since 2011, and accounts for more than half of the world’s unbanked population of 1.7 billion. Digital financial services (DFS)…

Digitization in Microfinance: Case Studies of Pathways to Success

For at least a decade, the microfinance industry has been watching and discussing changes in the financial sector driven by technology with a keen interest in the new potential for expanding the traditional microfinance model. This Working Paper  by CGAPtakes a unique look at microfinance institution (MFI) innovation with digitization by featuring case studies on the…

Partnership Models for Mobile-Enabled Insurance

Over the past decade, the inclusive digital insurance industry has evolved where mobile technology and mobile money has become increasingly beneficial to the industry. While the sector has expanded and continues to launch new and innovative products, it remains relatively nascent. Currently, only 18 per cent of mobile money providers offer a mobile-enabled insurance product.…

G20 Roadmap for Enhancing Cross-border Payments

The G20 has made enhancing cross-border payments a priority. Faster, cheaper, more transparent and more inclusive cross-border payment services, including remittances, while maintaining their safety and security, would have widespread benefits for citizens and economies worldwide, supporting economic growth, international trade, global development and financial inclusion. The FSB, in coordination with the Committee on Payments…

Agri DFS: Emerging Business Models to Support the Financial Inclusion of Smallholder Farmers

Smallholder agriculture is highly dependent on weather patterns and prone to environmental risks. Climate change further exacerbates farmers’ vulnerability. Agricultural digital financial services (agri DFS) would enable smallholders to manage cash flows and protect themselves against external shocks. However, they often remain financially excluded. Currently, the annual financing gap for smallholder farmers is estimated at…

Mobile Money API Industry Report: The Challenges of Seamless Integration

The mobile money industry continues to grow at a fast pace, accelerated by its evolution towards a platform-based approach through partner integrations. Historically, the mobile money industry focused mainly on person-to-person (P2P) transfers and cash-in / cash-out transactions. However, as the ecosystem has grown there has been a clear shift towards other use cases, creating…

Digital Sub-Wallets and Household Dialogues

Improving women’s equitable influence over household financial decisions increases their capacity and likelihood to save, reduces their risk of loss of income, and improves their financial stability and resilience to shocks. In particular, addressing restrictive social norms through household dialogues provide a safe space for women to equitably participate in household planning and decision-making. Women…

e-HKD: A Technical Perspective

The HKMA began researching CBDC under Project LionRock in 2017, and has since then actively collaborated with other central banks in broadening the knowledge of wholesale CBDC. In 2019, the HKMA and the Bank of Thailand (BOT) jointly initiated Project InthanonLionRock to study the potential of wholesale CBDC for cross-border payments. The project entered the…

Inthanon-LionRock to mBridge: Building a multi CBDC platform for international payments

A prototype of multiple Central Bank Digital Currencies (mCBDCs) developed by the Bank for International Settlements Innovation Hub and four central banks demonstrated the potential of using digital currencies and distributed ledger technology (DLT) for delivering real-time, cheaper and safer cross-border payments and settlements. The mBridge project is a cooperation between the BIS Innovation Hub…

Regulating Facial Recognition in the EU

Artificial intelligence (AI) powers the use of biometric technologies, including facial recognition applications, which are used for verification, identification and categorisation purposes by private or public actors. While facial recognition markets are poised to grow substantially in the coming years, the increasing use of facial recognition technologies (FRTs) has emerged as a salient issue in…

Policy Model for Digital Identity and Electronic Know Your Customer (e-KYC)

Countries across the world have been upgrading their public infrastructure for better service delivery in the digital era. One of the key developments in many countries is the implementation of a digital identity (ID) system. A major use case for digital ID has been electronic know your customer (e-KYC) processes, leveraging the digital ID system.…

Guidelines on Individual Accountability and Conduct

Financial institutions (FIs) play critical roles in safeguarding the interests of their customers, ensuring that markets operate in a fair, orderly, and transparent manner, and protecting the integrity of the financial system. The manner in which an FI conducts its business and deals with customers and other stakeholders is ultimately shaped by the culture in…

Ethically Aligned Design

As the use and impact of autonomous and intelligent systems (A/IS) become pervasive, we need to establish societal and policy guidelines in order for such systems to remain human-centric, serving humanity’s values and ethical principles. These systems must be developed and should operate in a way that is beneficial to people and the environment, beyond…

Central bank digital currencies – executive summary

A group of seven central banks (Bank of Canada, Bank of England, Bank of Japan, European Central Bank, Federal Reserve, Sveriges Riksbank and Swiss National Bank), together with the Bank for International Settlements, are working together to explore central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) for the public (“general purpose” or “retail” CBDC). Read the full paper…

Pioneering Solutions in Digital Finance for Climate Resilience

Millions of people around the world are already experiencing the negative effects of climate change. Lasting droughts, soaring temperatures, wildfires and other extreme weather events are threatening the lives, livelihoods, and assets of people globally. However, the effects of these impacts are concentrated among those who are dependent on natural resources, the poor and vulnerable, and those in particular…

The Opportunity in Digital Finance for Climate Resilience (DF4CR)

Current estimates suggest that at least 3.3 billion people are already vulnerable to the negative effects of climate change, namely those who depend on natural resources for their livelihoods, those who are poor and vulnerable, and those in particular geographies such as coastal areas and urban settlements. This magnitude suggests that the total addressable market…

The State of Mobile Internet Connectivity Report 2021

During the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent economic turmoil, mobile internet connectivity continued to grow. For the first time, more than half of the world’s population – just over 4 billion people – are using mobile internet. In 2020, coverage continued to increase, with 94% of the population now covered by a mobile broadband network. However,…

Mitigating the Impact of COVID-19 on Gains in Financial Inclusion: Early Lessons from Regulators and Policymakers

The full impact of this global crisis on countries, businesses and households is still unfolding, as many countries continue their fight to control the spread of the virus. Even though the pandemic is not over, pausing to take stock of emerging lessons and policy priorities will improve our preparedness for future crises as well as position…

The Precarious State of MSMEs: Understanding the Impact of COVID-19 and Opportunities to Support their Recovery

MSMEs — particularly micro and small businesses — have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in financial instability, business closures, and lack of employment for many low-income people. The financial outcomes of a shock, such as a pandemic, for micro and small enterprises can have consequential effects, as losses can directly impact MSME…

Universal Payment Channels: An Interoperability Platform for Digital Currencies

With the innovation of distributed ledger technology (DLT), often known as blockchain technology, there has been significant growth of digital tokens in the form of cryptocurrencies, stablecoins, and central bank digital currencies. As the number of DLT networks increases, each with varying design characteristics, the likelihood that transacting parties are on the same network decreases.…

Financial Health: An Introduction for Financial Sector Policymakers

With poor financial health a pervasive problem globally, this report by the UNSGSA explains why and how policymakers can incorporate this issue into their work. More explicit recognition of financial health as a goal, accompanied by measurement of gaps in the financial health of the population—especially the newly included—can help policymakers set a financial inclusion…

Improving Humanitarian Payments Through Digital Innovation

The adoption and usage of digital payments is accelerating across the globe, including in new and varied markets. In humanitarian crises, however, digital payments may not always be the best solution for recipients if there is not the necessary infrastructure and ecosystem. To be “better than cash”, digital payments must be responsible, especially for women,…

The Power of Jan Dhan: Making Finance Work for Women in India

Women’s World Banking’s first industry report in India highlights the design of its unique ‘Jan Dhan Plus’ solution, and learnings from a subsequent pilot study that helped nurture regular savings behavior among low-income women in the country. To understand women’s savings behaviors, Women’s World Banking worked with Bank of Baroda, an institution holding 14% of…

The Impacts of COVID-19 on Women’s Social and Economic Outcomes

In an updated review on the gendered social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, The Center for Global Development examined 49 studies identified by their search criteria between January and March 2021. This review included peer-reviewed papers, pre-prints and working papers that met specific search terms, contained empirical analyses and complete information on the…

Can Africa Leapfrog Toward Open Banking?

Open banking is seen in some circles as the next great leap forward in digital finance. By allowing application programming interfaces (APIs) to seamlessly connect data throughout the financial system and unify individual profiles, open banking promises to enable individuals and businesses to more easily access an array of products best suited to their needs,…

Defying the Odds: Remittances During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a large loss of human lives and led to the sharpest and most coordinated global output contraction in recent history. Countries were forced to put restrictions on people’s mobility to fight the pandemic and shut down non-essential businesses for extended periods. Unlike during the Global Financial Crisis where the advanced…

The Mobile Money Prevalence Index (MMPI): A Country-Level Indicator for Assessing the Adoption, Activity and Accessibility of Mobile Money

This paper by the GSMA presents a new index for the global mobile money industry – the Mobile Money Prevalence Index (MMPI). It is the first time a global index has been created with the purpose of measuring the prevalence of mobile money at country level. The MMPI considers a set of mobile money metrics…

Delivering Financial Health Globally

In the last two decades, substantial progress has been made towards advancing financial inclusion for the world’s most vulnerable people. Since 2011, 1.2 billion people across the globe have obtained a financial account. Most governments now have a financial inclusion strategy and deliver government payments through the formal financial system. Youth, women and other historically…

Using the GSMA Mobile Connectivity Index to Drive Digital Inclusion

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of the internet and the critical role of mobile technology, which is the primary way most people access the internet. Mobile internet is providing access to critical information, services and opportunities, in addition to supporting economic growth. Great strides have been made in delivering digital inclusion and connecting…

Verifying Recipients of Cash Assistance Through Voice ID

Through a partnership convened by the GSMA, partners CARE International and Telesom developed and deployed an innovative solution that utilises a user’s voice as verification for cash and voucher assistance (CVA).The solution was designed to address key issues in verifying recipients of cash payments in Somaliland; getting timely responses from recipients for proof of payment…

Policy Model for MSME Finance

There are over 65 million formal MSMEs that are credit constrained, representing 40 percent of all enterprises surveyed in 128 countries from emerging economies. Additionally, over 70% of women-led MSMEs globally are either financially unserved or underserved. The objective of this Policy Model by AFI is to provide guidance through a set of principles and…

A New Age of Digital Assets

In the last year, everything has changed for blockchain, digital assets and financial and financial services- and not only due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The proliferation of digital everything as both a means of exchange and a store of value has expanded significantly with a seismic shift impacting the global financial services industry in particular…

A Gender-Smart Approach to Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) of Climate and Disaster Risk Finance and Insurance Programmes

This guidance note provides practical step-by-step guidance on how to achieve a gender-smart Climate and Disaster Risk Finance and Insurance (CDRFI) programme through effective planning for monitoring and evaluation (M&E) throughout each stage of the programme cycle. This includes the design, implementation, and impact stages of such a programme. Additionally, it also provides advice on…

The Role of Insurance Supervisors in Boosting Women’s Access to Insurance

Women’s access to insurance contributes to the mandate of insurance supervisors to maintain a fair, safe, and stable insurance market, and more broadly, sustainable development. Yet, this potential of women’s insurance is still to be realised as available data indicates women are currently underserved by the insurance sector. This very much reflects the wider context…

Hey Sister! Show Me The Mobile Money

Now more than ever women need to be able to use mobile phones to manage their financial lives. Hey Sister! is an IVR (interactive voice response) campaign designed to increase women’s ability to access and use digital financial services. The campaign lessons are available for download here.

Humans Keeping AI in Check – Emerging Regulatory Expectations in the Financial Sector

Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to significantly improve the delivery of financial services. Several financial authorities have recently begun developing frameworks, outlining their expectations on AI governance and use by financial institutions. These frameworks converge on common guiding principles on reliability, accountability, transparency, fairness and ethics. While the emerging AI principles are useful, there…

Building an Inclusive Financial System

Since 2011, more than 1.2 billion adults globally have obtained a bank or transaction account — up to 69% from 51% in the past decade. Yet, gains in “access” miss the more important goal: whether financial access translates into better financial health for the people who need it. The stress brought by the pandemic on…

Fintech and Financial Inclusion in Latin America and the Caribbean

Despite some improvement since 2011, Latin America and the Caribbean continue to lag behind other regions in terms of financial inclusion. There is no clear evidence that fintech developments have supported greater financial inclusion in LAC, contrary to what has been observed elsewhere in the world. Case studies by national policy experts suggest that barriers…

Digital Currencies and CBDC Impacts on Least Developed Countries

Technology has always been a catalyst of change in monetary and payment systems across the globe. The Fintech-led evolution in the payments systems has seen the concept of currency undergo transformation in an unprecedented way. As technology remains a major catalyst in changing the paradigm of monetary and payment systems, there is also an urgency…

The Impact of Fintech on Central Bank Governance

Fintech presents unique opportunities for central banks. The rapid changes in technology that are transforming the financial system will allow central banks to enhance the execution of various of their core functions, such as currency issuance and payment systems. But some aspects of fintech pose major challenges. Central banks have always been at the cutting…

Private Digital Currency and Monetary Sovereignty

Recently, many central banks are considering issuing a central bank digital currency (CBDC). One motivation for issuing a CBDC is to maintain monetary sovereignty, i.e., the ability to control monetary policy and fulfill the role as the lender of last resort. There is a concern that the adoption of digital currencies and the declining use…

GDD Gender Analysis Technical Resource

The Gender Digital Divide Gender Analysis Technical Resource has been developed to address the constraints to women’s equitable participation in the economy, with a specific focus on the gender digital divide and women’s access to and use of information and communication technology (ICT). The Technical Resource includes practical tools and resources to be used by…

The Future of Payments

The 2020 pandemic has accelerated the development of a complex global digital economy and the sophisticated digital payments systems upon which it will rely. To many, this offers the exciting prospect of cheaper, more efficient and more secure transactions on a global scale. To others, it spells the loss of personal control, privacy and sovereignty. Managing…

2021 The Mobile Economy Asia Pacific

Across Asia Pacific, operators are using the exceptional scale and utility of mobile networks and services to facilitate innovative digital solutions for large and small enterprises in line with Industry 4.0 objectives, in which 5G and IoT will play key roles. A second phase of 5G network rollouts has begun in the region, marked by…

The Business Case for a Regional Digital Payments Policy for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in COMESA

Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) represent 90 percent of Africa’s economy and employ 70 percent of the continent’s total population, a large proportion of which, is not connected to, and lacks the technical skills for using digital infrastructure. As a result of this, they are constrained, because they need access to buyers, information on…

Research summary: Digitization for Improved Governance

This document provides an overview of how countries have leveraged the spread of digital technologies and infrastructure to improve governance, including by digitizing identification systems, social safety net services such as unconditional cash payments, and government response during emergencies (including during the COVID-19 pandemic). The document also outlines key risks associated with digitization. The document…

Research summary: The Impacts of Digital Financial Services on Women’s Economic Empowerment

This document summarizes the relationship between access to digital financial services and women’s economic empowerment. Topics include the mechanisms through which that access can help expand the breadth of women’s support networks, expedite transfers during periods of need, empower women to enter the work force or switch to more productive occupations, and lead to other…

Central Bank Digital Currencies: A Potential Response to the Financial Inclusion Challenges of the Pacific

This policy brief considers whether central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) can promote the accessibility of financial services in Pacific island countries and the design choices involved in their development.

The Positive Case for a CBDC

As part of its mandate to promote the economic and financial welfare of Canada, the Bank of Canada strives to support secure, reliable and efficient payment options for the benefit of all Canadians. Current activities that support this goal include providing liquidity to the financial system; overseeing prominent and systemically important financial infrastructure; and designing,…

CBDC Global Index

Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) will contribute significantly to the modernisation of the international monetary landscape, hand-in-hand with reconfiguration in both payment and financial infrastructure. They will generate numerous opportunities for further digitisation in both corporates and financial institutions, as their integration in payment and financial infrastructure progresses. Seizing these exciting opportunities will require operational,…

Regulating Big Techs in Finance

This publication explores big tech firms entering financial services can scale up rapidly with user data from their existing business lines in e-commerce and social media, and by harnessing the inherent network effects in digital services. In addition to traditional policy concerns such as financial risks, consumer protection, and operational resilience, the entry of big…

Delivering Financial Health Globally: A Collection of Insights, Approaches and Recommendations

Financial health is an emerging topic of research, advocacy and practice that aims to understand, measure and ultimately improve the part of wellbeing that is associated with the financial life of individuals. Financial health is a comprehensive approach, and this makes it an effective tool to address the Sustainable development Goals (SDGs). Poverty reduction (SDG…

Snapshots: MFIs During the COVID-19 Crisis

To help fill the void of publicly available data on how COVID-19 is impacting the microfinance sector, CGAP and Symbiotics – a leading microfinance investment vehicle – have partnered to analyze data on the performance of the more than 300 microfinance institutions (MFIs) in Symbiotics global portfolio. We will publish our analyses on this page as…

Using Mobile Technology to Improve Remittances to the Pacific

International remittances play a pivotal role in improving the lives of millions of migrants and their families. Digital and mobile money remittances are an essential form of capital inflow for many Pacific Island Countries. However, these services are expensive, often difficult to access and do not contribute sufficiently to financial inclusion within the region. As…

PAYGo PERFORM: Financial, Operational, and Portfolio Quality KPIs for the PAYGo solar industry

Over the last decade, pioneering off-grid solar companies have demonstrated the potential of the pay-as-you-go (PAYGo) business model to expand access to energy and financial services among low-income households. The PAYGo Performance, Reporting and Measurement (PERFORM) framework, detailed in this technical guide, offers the PAYGo solar industry a standardized set of key performance indicators (KPIs). By…

Understanding Micro- and Small-Growth Entrepreneurs in Vietnam, Pakistan and Peru

Despite recent progress in addressing challenges faced by women entrepreneurs, the COVID-19 pandemic has put the fragility of many of these gains into the spotlight by disproportionately impacting women workers and women-owned enterprises (WOEs). These enterprises now face new challenges that will need to be addressed if economies are to regain their losses in an…

Covid-19: Crisis as Opportunity for Urban Cash Transfers?

More so than any other shock in recent memory, Covid-19 shone a spotlight on the precarious living and working conditions of many city dwellers, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), as well as the glaring deficiencies in their urban social protection systems. Despite some notable efforts to accelerate coverage in recent years, provision of…

Focus on Digitisation and the Impact of COVID-19 on MSEs

The COVID-19 pandemic, termed ‘the Great Disruption’ hit the global economy in 2020. Whereas 2020 was defined by divergent impact within and between economies, 2021 will be defined by multispeed and divergent recovery in the global and local economy. Low-income countries continue to face grimmer economic prospects due to limited access to COVID-19 vaccines and…

The State of Fintech in Emerging Markets

Fintech investment has increased across emerging markets over the last five years, totaling $23B across regions. However, funding by region is unequal. This report by the Briter Bridges and Catalyst Fund teams evaluates the state of fintech in Africa, Latin America and South Asia across three lenses: investment trends, product and business model trends, and…

How Financial Cooperatives Are Pursuing Digital Transformation in a Disrupted World

Changing business and market requirements were already pushing financial service providers to pursue digital transformation or digitization, the process of using digital technologies to create or modify products, business processes, and customer experiences. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this process. Interventions to contain the virus’s spread have focused on restricting mobility and non-essential employment, and…

Surviving 2020: Lessons on Resilience from Kenya’s Covid Diaries

For this project, BFA and FSD Kenya conducted four rounds of interviews over the phone with about 200 respondents from the Kenya Financial Diaries between March and December to understand how ordinary Kenyans were affected by the COVID-19 shock. After a period of severe stress in June, most households recovered to modest levels of stress…

Alternative Data Landscape in South Africa

71point4’s report on the alternative data landscape in South Africa has recently been published by the IFC and is available online here. The study explores the extent to which access to alternative data could enable lenders to serve traditionally under-served segments of the market. These segments include so-called thin file clients who have no credit histories, as well…

Updated Estimates of the Impact of COVID-19 on Global Poverty

More than a year into the pandemic, much is still unknown concerning its impact on global poverty. Though high-frequency phone surveys have helped gain a broad understanding of the economic consequences of the pandemic, the collection of detailed, household surveys needed to understand its impact on poverty has largely been put on hold. In this blog published…

Designing Digital Payments for Mexican Women Entrepreneurs

Mexico’s 6.3 million micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) generate nearly half of Mexico’s GDP and employ 37 percent of the workforce. Of MSMEs, 94.2 percent are microenterprises, and over half of these are women-owned or women-led. Despite this segment’s dominance in the economy, the majority of MSMEs transactions are still cash-based. This report by…

How Regulators Use Sex-Disaggregated Data and Regtech to Enhance Financial Inclusion

Financial inclusion of women brings disproportionate benefits to their families and to economic development, yet in many countries an access-to-finance gender gap remains. Sex-disaggregated data (SDD)is key to monitoring and addressing this problem. This study by the USAID and Toronto  examines the role that financial services regulators can play in efforts to address financial inclusion…

Inclusive Digital Economies for the Sustainable Development Goals

A breakthrough publication that combines insights from across UNCDF along with expert contributions from over a dozen organizations on the future of digital economies and how to make the digital transformation inclusive. Digital innovations in the areas of energy, agriculture, health, education, and mobility are already transforming how people access and use a range of…

Updated estimates of the impact of COVID-19 on global poverty: Turning the corner on the pandemic in 2021?

In this blog, we revise those numbers based on updates to global poverty data that occurred in March and June and based on the recently launched growth forecasts from the June 2021 version of GEP. We aim to provide preliminary answers to two questions: Is global poverty turning the corner on the pandemic in 2021, and if so, is this…

Promoting Inclusive Digital Agriculture: GSMA’s New Self-Assessment Tool

The GSMA has developed the “Inclusive Digital Agriculture Tool”, a new self-assessment tool to help practitioners such as agritech solution providers, agribusinesses and donors design and scale inclusive services for digital agriculture. The tool aims to realise digitisation benefits for more underserved communities such as farmers with disabilities, and empower farmers with decision-making tools and…

Normative Constraints to Women’s Financial Inclusion: What We Know and What We Need to Know

This paper reviews the emerging evidence on social and gender norms and financial inclusion. Norms are increasingly recognized as a key constraint to women’s financial inclusion — one that may help explain the persistent gender gaps in a bank account and, in some regions, mobile money ownership, as well as the fact that progress toward…

The Mobile Gender Gap Report 2021

Owning a mobile phone and accessing the internet can be life changing. The scale and reach of mobile technology is enabling billions of people around the world to access crucial services and information to meet their life needs, often for the first time. This report by GSMA highlights how the mobile gender gap continues to…

Consumer Risks in Fintech

Fintech is increasingly recognized as a key enabler for financial sectors worldwide, enabling more efficient and competitive financial markets while expanding access to finance for traditionally underserved consumers. A critical challenge for policy makers is to harness the benefits and opportunities of fintech while managing its risks, including for consumers. The COVID-19 pandemic further accelerated…

Cryptocurrency: at a Regulatory Crossroads

After months of skyrocketing values, the past month saw a precipitous drop in cryptocurrency prices, with the value nearly halving from its all-time high in April. Multiple factors are suggested to explain bitcoin’s latest plunge, including  a sell-off from “whale traders” to cash in on crypto’s bull run. This report by Mondato explores the regulatory…

Women’s Financial Inclusion Toolkit – Paving the Way for Women’s Economic Empowerment

Financial inclusion is a catalyst towards growth and opportunity. It is therefore not surprising that it features as a target in eight of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals. It is associated with reducing poverty, increasing resilience, and improving economic growth, innovation, and family well-being. Beyond supporting these overarching goals, women’s financial inclusion crucially also contributes to women’s economic empowerment and gender…

Getting Repaid in Asset Finance: A Guide to Managing Credit Risk

From Sub-Saharan Africa to the Indian Subcontinent, asset finance and leasing companies are doing invaluable, innovative work to finance critical assets for low-income and informal borrowers. But unlike banks and microfinance institutions, many of these companies do not have deep experience in organizing a credit operation, mitigating risk throughout a credit transaction or managing a…

Building and Strengthening Digital Ecosystems in Humanitarian Contexts

This report draws on lessons from the GSMA Mobile for Humanitarian Innovation programme’s Strategic Partnership portfolio. These lessons were identified in a detailed systematic review of over 150 pieces of evidence, 12 in-depth interviews and a workshop that validated the lessons. This process enabled the team to robustly identify the building blocks necessary to create…

BigFintechs & Sustainability: A necessary convergence

The rapid rise of global digital finance players (BigFintechs) in which technology has come to play a key role in driving an upsurge in growth, scale and diversification into financial services has taken many by surprise. From charismatic antitrust actions to new data regulations, the world has advanced a series of measures in response to…

WEEGE Technical Guide

The Women’s Economic Empowerment and Gender Equality (WEEGE) Technical Guide was developed to enable USAID staff to design, procure, implement, monitor and evaluate programs that increase women’s economic empowerment and gender equality outcomes. It offers tangible solutions to support USAID efforts to integrate WEEGE into global, regional and country strategic planning; project and activity design…

How regulators use sex-disaggregated data and regtech to enhance financial inclusion

This study examines the role that financial services regulators can play in efforts to address financial inclusion of women: how they are using, or could use, SDD to enhance women’s access to and use of financial products and services of the right quality that meet their needs; and how new technologies could help.

Weapons Of Math Destruction: The Power Of Oversight

Big data is making decisions about your future behind the scenes, and it’s likely you don’t even know it. This article outlines how big data has the potential to be one of the biggest threats to the liberties we’ve seen in a long time.

Global Gender Gap Report 2021

Another generation of women will have to wait for gender parity, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021. As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be felt, closing the global gender gap has increased by a generation from 99.5 years to 135.6 years.

Gender Shades: Intersectional Accuracy Disparities in Commercial Gender Classification

Recent studies demonstrate that machine learning algorithms can discriminate based on classes like race and gender. This paper, presents an approach to evaluate bias present in automated facial analysis algorithms and datasets with respect to phenotypic subgroups.

HOW REGULATORS USE SEX-DISAGGREGATED DATA AND REGTECH TO ENHANCE FINANCIAL INCLUSION

The Digital Finance team, together with the Gender Equality & Women’s Empowerment Hub, partnered with the Toronto Centre to advance the use of regulatory technology (RegTech) for women’s economic empowerment, through market-level research and consultations with four country-level financial authorities in Colombia, Kenya, Zambia, and Peru. This study examines the role that financial regulators can play…

Enabling Women’s Financial Inclusion through Digital Financial Literacy

The last decade has seen a rapid increase in digital and financial inclusion. Thanks to widespread mobile phone ownership and a rise in mobile and agent banking, more people than ever before have bank accounts that they can use in their everyday lives. However, a persistent gender gap in both mobile phone ownership  and bank…

Weathering the Storm II: Tales of Survival from Microfinance Crises Past

What does it take to survive a crisis? Resourcefulness, adaptability, perseverance; the adjectives are plenty, but none can rival experience, which stands above the rest. Thankfully, crises are rare, but that comes with a downside—when faced with crisis, few people have prior crisis experience to draw upon. For that, there is an alternative: learn from…

Financial Health of Workers in the Gig Economy – A Case Study of Grab Drivers and Delivery Partners

Like traditional employment, gig work can be performed on a part-time or full-time basis. However, unlike traditional employment, each gig – or job – is usually performed at the discretion of the gig worker. In the ride-hailing/delivery industry in particular, these gigs are completed in minutes. The decisions of which gig to undertake and how…

Impact of COVID-19 on FinTechs: Senegal

This report from Microsave attempts to gauge the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on FinTechs in Senegal and understand how the ecosystem adapted and evolved during 2020. It further sheds light on the measures policymakers announced to support FinTechs and their effectiveness.

Cryptographic Hash Functions Explained: A Beginner’s Guide

A cryptographic hash function is a mathematical equation that enables many everyday forms of encryption, like digital signatures. This includes everything from the HTTPS protocol to payments made on e-commerce websites. Cryptographic hash functions are also used extensively in blockchain technology. While the term itself may seem intimidating, cryptographic hash functions are relatively easy to understand.…

Leadership: People, Systems and Processes

Most managers spend a lot of time focused on their people. They think they can actually improve organizational performance by influencing their employees. But is this really true? In this report maybe there are different and faster ways to enhance performance.

Blockchain Solutions for Central Bank Digital Currency

A Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDCs) is a digital form of central bank money, which is legal tender created and backed by a central bank that represents a claim against the central bank and not against a commercial bank or a Payment Service Provider (PSP). The Consensys site offers basic definitions for understanding CBDCs.

GDD Risk Mitigation Technical Note

This Gender Digital Divide Risk Mitigation Technical Note has been developed to address the constraints to women’s equitable participation in the national, regional and global economy. It offers practical steps, strategies and resources to be used by USAID staff and partners for mitigating the risks associated with women and girls accessing and using information and…

Guide to Financial Consumer Protection in the Digital Era

Financial services are evolving rapidly, with a growing array of new technologies, unconventional providers, and innovative combinations of financial and non-financial services. While this evolution can help enhance financial inclusion for women, low-income, and vulnerable consumers, it also brings greater risks. This report gives evidence that digital finance consumer risks, such as data protection risks, have…

Financial Health of Workers in the Gig Economy

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought home the extent to which technology is reshaping our economies and industries. One such industry is the gig economy, a labour economy of sorts where speed and convenience are the norm, characterized by temporary or short-term work opportunities that are sometimes completed within minutes. This report by the UNCDF offers…

How Regulation Influences Innovation of Digital Financial Services: Evaluating the Different Approaches in Our Countries of Operation

Financial sector digital evolution has seen increasing changes with a move towards technology driven delivery channels, and the explosion of mobile into the financial sector aided to scaling online banking through digital apps and enabled innovation of new DFS products and services, further driven by the entry non-banks including the telecom or mobile money operators…

How to Empower Small Businesses to go Digital and Rebuild

As the recovery from COVID-19 begins, financial inclusion has never been more urgent. Low-income people around the world have lost their jobs or businesses, and the World Bank projects that the pandemic will push 100 million people into extreme poverty. Vulnerable populations direly need financial tools like savings, credit, and insurance to rebuild their livelihoods and…

Utilising Mobile Big Data and AI to Benefit Society

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the health and livelihoods of much of the global population. As of March 2021, there were nearly 125 million confirmed cases of the virus around the world and over 2.7 million deaths. With social and travel restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the…

Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence: Evidence from a Survey of Machine Learning Researchers

Machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) researchers are important in the development of ethics and governance of AI, including taking action against what they perceive to be unethical uses of AI. That being said, this influential group’s attitudes are not well understood, which undermines the ability to discern consensuses or disagreements between AI/ML researchers.…

Financial Inclusion for Development: Better Access to Financial Services for Women, the Poor, and Migrant Workers

Access to financial services is central for development and is mentioned in several goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The importance of reducing the transaction costs of remittances is also acknowledged in the agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Financial inclusion has become a key policy agenda of many countries, since it…

Risk Sharing Facilities: Mobilizing Finance for Women-led MSMEs

Women-led MSMEs may be perceived as too small or too risky to attract finance. Risk sharing facilities (RSF) can reduce the perceived and real risks of lending to women entrepreneurs, who are underserved by the formal financial sector. The purpose of this toolkit by AFI is to assist members to conceptualize and design risk-sharing facilities…

Understanding People’s Mobile Digital Skills Needs

The report covers: The digital skills training landscape in India and Ghana; The role of mobile internet in supporting people’s needs; Mobile digital skills acquisition, including motivations, barriers, learning journeys, and key transferrable skills; and Key user archetypes identified in India and Ghana. Broad-based digital skills acquisition has the potential to overcome barriers to digital…

Social Media Usage by Digital Finance Consumers: Analysis of Consumer Complaints in Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda

The digitization of financial services has been on the rise in the past years and has experienced a particularly big leap after the COVID-19 pandemic due to the temporary closure of physical offices and bank branches of many financial service providers. As financial services go digital, so do consumers by sharing their experiences, complaints and…

Evidence Review of Women’s Groups and Covid-19

It has been more than a year since COVID-19 lockdowns began, and economic recovery is a top priority for governments, donors, and international financial institutions (IFIs) worldwide, including in sub-Saharan Africa. Targeted investments that increase community resilience and spur economic growth will mitigate some of the negative economic consequences of this crisis. Investment in women’s…

Consumer Risks in Fintech

Fintech is increasingly recognized as a key enabler for financial sectors worldwide, enabling more efficient and competitive financial markets while expanding access to finance for traditionally underserved consumers. Along with its benefits, fintech also poses a range of risks to consumers that need to be mitigated in order for fintech to truly benefit consumers. Some…

African Remittance Market Insights

RemitSCOPE Africa compiles and analyses data on all 54 African countries providing multi-layered information on diaspora, remittances, regulation, access, market players and financial inclusion. Click here for more market insights.

A Digital Financial Services Revolution in Kenya: The M-Pesa Case Study

The African Economic Research Consortium conducted this case study  which aims to contribute to the discussion around appropriate regulatory and policy issues of mobile money by focusing on actions that the Central Bank of Kenya took to help M-Pesa grow in a sustainable way.

Women Entrepreneurs: Surviving the Pandemic and Beyond

The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women has released its 2020 annual audit of research on women entrepreneurs in low and middle income countries for International Women’s Day on 8 March 2021. The comprehensive report draws on responses from 125 women across 32 countries. It illustrates the stark impacts of COVID-19 on women entrepreneurs and other…

Winning the Low-Income Market: Assessing the State of Product Development in the Nigerian Financial Service Industry

This report by Next Billion addresses the third ecosystem pillar – the institutional/regulatory component, with specific focus on the legislation, policies, and regulations. The policy analysis unearthed critical policy constraints and guided by the doctrinal interpretations of existing laws, market-enabling policy solutions evolved. Our presentation focuses on material financial inclusion issues, the guiding laws, and…

Research Brief: The Impact of Mobile Money on Poverty

To support financial inclusion advocates and our partners in this sector, the FSP program has developed a research brief that outlines key findings on the impact of mobile money on poverty. The document shares rigorous evidence from a range of studies about the effects of mobile money on individuals and households and about the user experience of payment…

Announcing the GSMA Innovation Fund for Mobile Internet Adoption and Digital Inclusion Grantees

To help address this important challenge, the GSMA Innovation Fund for Mobile Internet Adoption and Digital Inclusion report was launched in April 2020 with support from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the GSMA and its members. The objective of the fund was to open…

Gender Balance Index 2021

The index tracks the presence of men and women in decision-making positions in financial institutions. It is based on a database of almost 9,000 individuals. For the first time this year we are including commercial banks in the analysis to make comparisons between the public and private sector. The 50 commercial banks selected for this…

Engaging with Evidence in Impact Measurement

This case study was conducted by GAWA Capital- an impact investing company that promotes social and economic development by leveraging private capital markets to support social entrepreneurs

Idepro Case Study

Idepro believes that providing working capital loans to small-scale producers will enable them to invest in their businesses. This will result in enterprise growth while technical assistance can help producers eliminate other obstacles to success, such as a lack of business training. In the grape value chain, the focus of this case study, Idepro manages…

The Stories Algorithms Tell: Bias and Financial Inclusion at the Data Margins

This paper  by the Centre of Financial Inclusion explores the stories algorithms can tell about who is creditworthy in emerging markets, the risks of that narrative for those it leaves out, and what it all might mean for inclusive finance.

Policy Catalogue on MSME Financing in Africa

Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) have been cited as one of the strongest drivers of economic development, job creation and innovation globally. Given the multitude of MSMEs policies in Africa, governments have clearly acknowledged this challenge and are implementing policies aimed at supporting MSME’s access to finance and, by extension, growth. This policy catalogue…

Scale2Save Case Study: Mobile Financial Services

This study  by Scale2Save provides an overview of mobile retail financial services in Africa. It identifies some key considerations for FSPs considering either introducing mobile services or expanding their mobile offerings. It focuses on the use of mobile money, but mobile banking and mobile wallets are also covered.

Data, Diversify, Distribute: Emerging Optimization Models

2020 brought with it a 12.7 percent increase in the number of registered mobile money accounts, bringing the final count to 1.21 billion accounts. Transaction values also grew as customers began using their accounts more often and for more advanced use cases. However, many mobile money operators have struggled with the long-term viability of thin margins while managing…

Gender Inequality Causes Poverty Briefer

Through the Women’s Economic Empowerment and Equality Technical Assistance (WE3 TA) task order, Banyan Global produced the “Gender Inequality Causes Poverty Briefer” highlighting the long-standing and structural barriers contributing to gender inequality, preventing women from full economic participation, and consequently causing and perpetuating poverty. In international rankings, such as the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, the countries…

Commercially Sustainable Roles for Mobile Operators in Digital ID Ecosystems

This research by the GSMA Digital Identity programme has revealed that when a digital ID ecosystem has been built properly and supported by the public and private sector, ID verification during customer on-boarding can provide commercial benefits and opportunities for MNOs. It may also help governments meet public policy objectives and open access to life-enhancing…

Regulating for Innovation: A Supervisory Toolkit

This toolkit by CENFRI provides a step-by-step guide on encouraging and facilitating innovation in respective markets whilst upholding the safety of insurance consumers. The supervisory toolkit will help regulators navigate their role and guide decisions in regulating for innovation.

Central Bank Digital Currencies Tracker

Central Bank Digital Currencies are an interesting topic right now. If you are interested in seeing what is happening with CBDCs, click on this link, which tracks developments across the globe.

Digital Extension Services Improve Farmer Productivity in Uganda

In the West Nile region in Uganda, one agriculture extension worker serves 2,000 farmers, demonstrating the key role of technology in enabling access to the much needed extension and agronomic services. An inception study undertaken by UNCDF showed that the lack of access to quality extension services, is one of the main constraints in the…

Digitalization of Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) in Uganda

Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) are savings groups that are self-managed by the members. The core objectives of these groups are to provide a safe environment for members to save money through purchase of shares, and access small loans. This case study is presented by UNCDF partner Ensibuuko Tech Limited, a Ugandan Financial Technologies…

Digital Identity: Accelerating Financial Inclusion During a Crisis

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, people around the world have been unable to conduct their affairs in person due to restrictions on movement. In response, governments and the mobile industry have come together to implement policy changes that facilitate wider access to digital financial services. To better understand these ID-linked policy changes and…

Digital Financial Inclusion in Emerging and Developing Economies: A New Index

Adoption of technology in the financial services industry (i.e. fintech) has been accelerating in recent years. To systematically and comprehensively assess the extent and progress over time in financial inclusion enabled by technology, the IMF has developed a novel digital financial inclusion index. This index is based on payments data covering 52 developing countries for…

Analysis of India’s Payment System Indicators in 2020

COVID-19 has changed the way consumers use payment instruments fundamentally. The might of digital payments came to the fore as it helped protect vulnerable segments through seamless and quick government-to-person (G2P) payments. Digital payments offered convenient and contactless modes of payment as well as a collection to customers and businesses respectively. This report analyzes the…

Report: From Cash to Digital Wage Payments in the Philippines

The report discusses why it is imperative to capitalize on this momentum to ensure wider adoption and usage of digital payments, particularly among low-income women, with a focus on digital wage payments for salaried workers among low-income women, with a focus on digital wage payments for salaried workers.

EVIDENCE REVIEW OF WOMEN’S GROUPS AND COVID-19:

This brief focuses on one specific type of women’s group in sub-Saharan Africa: savings groups. Savings groups are a common form of women’s group and serve as a reliable mechanism for people in sub-Saharan Africa to save money. Members of savings groups pool small weekly savings into a common fund, which members can then borrow…

Your Guide to Open Source Vs Proprietary Software Security

In an age when software relies on open source for faster, more efficient development, the debate over whether or not to use it for building applications would appear to be long over. The use of open source components is an established fact, comprising 60-80% of the code base in modern applications. Now the question that organizations…

Gender Inequality Causes Poverty Briefer

Linda Scott authored this brief under the Women’s Economic Empowerment and Equality Technical Assistance Task Order. In international rankings, such as the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, the countries where women have the fewest freedoms, including economic rights, are also shown to be the poorest and most conflict-ridden in the world. The evidence…

Digital Sub-Wallets for Increased Financial Empowerment of Women

There are few, if any, mobile platforms designed around women’s financial habits and needs. However, financial inclusion of women cannot be fully achieved by focusing on financial products; gender norms must also be addressed. In this article, CARE  elaborates on how they recognized the need to design a savings group approach that would simultaneously address…

GDD Risk Mitigation Technical Note

This Gender Digital Divide Risk Mitigation Technical Note has been developed to address the constraints to women’s equitable participation in the national, regional and global economy. It offers practical steps, strategies and resources to be used by USAID staff and partners for mitigating the risks associated with women and girls accessing and using information and…

From Cash to Digital Wage Payments in the Philippines

The thriving digital economy in the Philippines and proliferation of new digital solutions, coupled with the government’s push to drive digital payments and financial inclusion, provides for tremendous opportunities to deepen financial inclusion in the country. This qualitative research study by Women’s World Banking and the International Labour Organization assessed the awareness, use and acceptance of…

Humanitarian Cash and Voucher Assistance Programmes in Ethiopia

This report, in partnership with the Collaborative Cash Delivery (CCD) Network, explores the context and capability of the mobile money ecosystem in Ethiopia. With a focus on humanitarian cash and voucher assistance (CVA) programming, it aims to help humanitarian and development actors assess the feasibility of deploying mobile money for CVA programming in the country

Evaluation of Banking and Non-Banking Agent Networks

This report  by FSD Africa presents the results of the evaluation study on bank and non-bank agents and the users of their services in Maputo City and Province in Mozambique.

Empowering Women on a Journey Towards Digital Financial Capability

Financial inclusion is becoming more and more digital. To accelerate this journey to digitization, and not let women customers be left even further behind, we need to ensure policymakers and financial service providers focus on effectively supporting women customers build their digital financial capabilities, so they can use digital financial services with ease and confidence.  This report focuses on building the knowledge, skills, and attitudes…

What Drives the Financial Inclusion Gender Gap for Young Women?

There are stubborn differences in the rates at which men and women access, use and benefit from formal financial services. As an initial step toward understanding what drives these differences, in this paper , CGAP worked with the Global Findex team to analyze how the account ownership gender gap varies across regions and age groups.

A 10-point Action Plan for Governments and Businesses to Rebuild Stronger after COVID-19 by Prioritizing Women’s Digital Financial Inclusion

Drawing on decades of experience, research and in-field activity, the following 10-point action plan to end financial inequality for women aims to help end the continued economic exclusion of half the world’s population and to build more resilient economies. As governments and companies take steps to repair economies, the 10 actions described in this report…

New research by Caribou Digital and the DFS Lab predicts implementation of the Level One Principles will benefit women and help close the gender gap

This new body of research—funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—explores this phenomenon from a different angle. Can better digital payment system design create the conditions for more women to use digital financial tools? Generally, the analysis predicts that adoption of an L1P system will have positive benefits for women relative to the typical…

Regulatory Flexibility During the Pandemic: Emerging Lessons

When financial sectors are buffeted by sudden and dramatic external shocks, regulators strive to implement targeted regulatory responses to mitigate negative impacts — and the shocks made by the pandemic were no exception. The aim of this policy report  by The Centre for Financial Inclusion is to examine the types of regulatory flexibility adopted in…

Integrating Forcibly Displaced Persons Into a National Financial Inclusion Strategy

Sustainable development and inclusive economic growth can only be achieved if those who are forcibly displaced are not left behind in pursuit of broader national financial inclusion goals. Accessing formal financial services can enable forcibly displaced persons (FDPs) to overcome difficult situations, apply their skills and competencies, and realize their future potential. This helps them…

2021 State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money

2020 was a year like no other. In every region of the world, COVID-19 triggered a mix of responses, from school and workplace closures to restrictions on movement to complete lockdown. All at once, handling cash, paying for daily essentials, and conducting business in person became risky, and more people than ever turned to mobile…

Elevating the Collective Consumer Voice in Financial Regulation

Elevating the collective voice of digital financial services (DFS) consumers can give them more say and more power in the financial sector. Through a stronger consumer voice, regulators will gain a better understanding of the risks facing consumers and adapt regulations accordingly, thus making financial services more responsible. Through its research, CGAP identified three opportunities…

Minding the DFS Gender Gap: Battling Social Norms to Level the Playing Field

While the DFS gender gap has slowly narrowed over the past few years, much work needs to be done in order to completely close it, with the COVID pandemic only exacerbating barriers to financial access for women globally. This post by Mondato talks about how social norms could level the playing field in the gender…

Report: Algorithmic Bias, Financial Inclusion, and Gender: A primer on opening up new credit to women in emerging economies

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are changing financial services offerings to customers across the globe. Historically, women have been the victims of unconscious bias in lending decisions. Algorithm-enabled credit decisions have the potential to create a level playing field for female customers worldwide—but only if we find and mitigate biases emerging through technology inputs and…

Blockchain: A Technology That is Changing the World for the Better

Considered for long a new technology, blockchain is developing fast, and is quickly becoming a key player in many industries. If there was no doubt of the importance of blockchain technology a few years ago, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has certainly confronted the whole world with an unprecedented challenge, has turbocharged a financial technology…

The Digital Rupee: An Important Tool to Promote Financial Inclusion

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly confronted the whole world with an unprecedented challenge, but, at the same time, it has turbocharged a financial technology (Fintech) revolution worldwide. COVID-19 is changing consumer behavior, quite likely forever, and the banking and financial services industry urgently needs to adapt. Digital transformation has quickly become the top priority…

Can Free Phones Close the Digital Gender Divide?

The gender gap in mobile phone ownership is well-documented. For years now, the financial inclusion community has been trying to get phones into the hands of more women at the last mile. While these efforts have undeniably increased women’s access to phones, it’s less clear to what extent the beneficiaries of these programs are using…

Ready, Steady, Go? – Results of the Third BIS Survey on Central Bank Digital Currency

Most central banks are exploring central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), and their work continues apace amid the Covid-19 pandemic. As a whole, central banks are moving into more advanced stages of CBDC engagement, progressing from conceptual research to practical experimentation. This BIS paper updates earlier surveys that asked central banks how their plans in this…

National Financial Inclusion Strategy Monitoring and Evaluation Toolkit

How do you measure if a national financial inclusion strategy (NFIS) is delivering what it sets out to accomplish and if it’s being implemented as envisioned? These questions can be answered through monitoring and evaluation (M&E). In the context of NFIS, M&E plays a crucial role to improve the management of outputs and outcomes while…

Consumer Protection for Digital Financial Services: A Survey of the Policy Landscape

Digital financial services have contributed to the expansion of financial inclusion in the last decade, but there are certain consumer protection risks that may threaten to erode the important gains achieved. These risks have compelled regulators to rethink their approach to supervising consumer protection for digital financial services (CP4DFS). Through examples and case studies, this…

A Tough Call: Understanding Barriers to and Impacts of Women’s Mobile Phone Adoption in India

Today in India, 67% percent of men own mobile phones, but only 33% percent of women do. South Asian countries in general are clear outliers among countries of similar levels of development, with India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh exhibiting some of the world’s highest gender gaps in access to technology. While the mobile gender gap matters…

The Economic Impact of Mobile Phones on Low-Income Households

One of the most important technological advances over the last quarter-century has been the global diffusion of mobile phones. While the economic benefits from the mobile phone revolution are far-reaching, the greatest potential impact holds for the poorest—those who traditionally face steep barriers to long-distance communication, acquiring market information, and utilizing financial institutions. This research…

Crisis Roadmap for Microfinance Institutions: COVID-19 and Beyond

The COVID-19 pandemic is the latest in a series of crises that microfinance institutions (MFIs) around the world have faced in recent decades. This crisis response roadmap is designed to help MFIs navigate the COVID-19 health pandemic and its economic impact, and to provide guidance on recommended practices that are relevant today and for future crises.

The Digital Yuan, Where Are We Now? Latest Developments.

The Digital Yuan or DCEP is having and will have tremendous importance, not only for China but globally. For China, because, if successful, the Digital Yuan will become an effective domestic tool not only for facilitating consumers’ retail payments, but also to enhance the yuan as a payments currency in the global financial system. In…

The Future of Financial Inclusion in China

According to the World Bank’s Global Findex database, globally, 1.7 billion people do not have a bank account, and policymakers struggle to provide affordable, safe and accessible financial services to the unbanked population. Home to 225 million adults without an account, China has the world’s largest unbanked population, followed by India (190 million), Pakistan (100…

A Pan-Asian Digital Currency Would Bring Many Opportunities to China

Many authors and scholars have advocated the introduction of an Asian digital common currency covering the whole of the East Asia region as a multilateral synthetic currency comparable to the Euro. Even though this is just a suggestion, it is unclear whether Asia will put in practice or not. In this article,  Dr Oriol Caudevilla…

The RCEP, A Boost for Trade and Central Bank Digital Currencies in Asia

One of the world’s largest free-trade deals in history, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP),was signed last November 15, after eight years of negotiations. It is composed of fifteen countries (all ten members of ASEAN -Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam-, plus China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand),…

Making Digital Finance Work for Women in the MENA Region

Despite progress over the past few years, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region still has the largest gender gap in terms of women’s economic participation in the world. This economic divide also holds true for financial inclusion.  Innovative Digital Financial Services (DFS) have strong potential to accelerate women’s financial empowerment. The opportunities and…

Coping with COVID-19 and Responding to COVID-19

The first 10 months of 2020 were extremely difficult for almost everyone around the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed thousands of lives across the globe and crippled the economies of numerous countries. Microsave Consulting tracked the impact of the pandemic on low- and – middle income households which have uncertain and irregular incomes. The…

Global COVID-19 FinTech Market Rapid Assessment Study

Covid-19 has profoundly impacted financial systems across the world, including the provision of digital financial services and the functioning of FinTech markets. Recent anecdotal evidence suggests that the socio economic shocks associated with the global pandemic have severely disrupted some FinTech sectors, created opportunities to others and introduced a state of flux for many. As…

What is the Value of Pay-As-You-Go Solar for Mobile Operators?

The rapid growth of pay-as-you-go (PAYG) solar has been enabled by mobile money and mobile connectivity that allows customers to pay by instalments, and companies to remotely control and monitor the solar home systems (SHS). And in turn, the PAYG solar industry has helped to drive the adoption and use of mobile money, by giving…

Are the Effects of Mobile Money Regulation Gender Neutral?

According to the latest Global Findex data (2017), there are 1.7 billion ‘unbanked’ people in the world, the majority of whom are women. With 290 live deployments in 95 countries, mobile money has laid a firm footprint in many low- and middle-income countries and is an available option for many unbanked individuals to access financial…

What Makes Customers Choose One Transaction Product Over Another?

There has been tremendous progress when it comes to improving access to financial services, with 515 million more adults globally reporting account ownership at a financial institution or a mobile money provider in 2017 than in 2014, for a total of 69% of the world population. However, to improve the overall financial well-being of customers,…

Fintech Regulation: How to Achieve a Level Playing Field

How regulation should evolve to encourage fair competition between traditional banks and new fintech and big tech players is now being debated. Some advocate moving from an entity-based to an activity based regulatory approach under the principle “same activity, same regulation”. However, there is only limited scope for further harmonising the requirements for different players…

Regulatory Sandboxes: A Practical Guide for Policy Makers

What is a regulatory sandbox? A formal regulatory initiative: ➢ to test innovation ➢ in the live marketplace ➢ on a time- and scope-limited basis ➢ to determine the appropriate regulatory treatment/status ➢ before the innovation can fully operate in the marketplace …where other options fall short This visual guide from CGAP walks you through…

Permissioned Distributed Ledgers and the Governance of Money

Since the late 1990s, monetary theorists have regarded money in general and cash in particular as a substitute for a publicly available and freely accessible record-keeping device. Theoretically, cash could be replaced by a public ledger recording all past and present transactions. Distributed ledger technology (DLT) is such a record-keeping device that can ensure trade…

Measuring Women’s Economic Empowerment in Financial Inclusion

As a growing number of researchers and practitioners have started using women’s economic empowerment (WEE) measurements to better understand the impact of financial inclusion, there is widespread recognition that financial inclusion can help low-income women improve their livelihoods and resilience while contributing to their economic empowerment. Although measuring the more tangible aspects of economic empowerment,…

Building Faster Better: A Guide to Inclusive Instant Payment Systems

Today, digital technologies provide the on the on-ramp for many people in emerging markets to access and use financial services. However, many of the payment services available to low-income customers have evolved as closed-loop systems, meaning they are not interoperable with the services of other providers. This guide from CGAP is intended to be a…

The Case for a Gender-Intelligent Approach: An Opportunity for Inclusive Fintechs

For low-income women, digital financial inclusion offers an opportunity to upend entrenched gender inequalities by entering spheres from which they have been otherwise excluded. Financial services delivered via mobile phone can bridge the last-mile gap, bringing financial tools and services directly to women where they work and live. CFI has shared this brief which examines…

Virtual Workshop: Assessment of the Impact of COVID-19 on Low- and Moderate-Income Populations, and Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises

MSC (MicroSave Consulting), with support from the Swiss Capacity Building Facility (SCBF), conducted a workshop, “Assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on MSMEs in Asia and Africa” through a webinar on 28th January, 2021. In this webinar, panelists discussed the impact of the pandemic on financial health, especially of the MSME sector and low- and moderate-income…

Social Norms and Financial Decision-Making in Zambia

To generate insights into the normative environment within which spouses in Eastern Province, Zambia, make decisions about money holding and saving, FSD Zambia with University of Nottingham undertook a two-staged research project over 2019-2020. The following findings were identified:  Husbands and wives often sacrifice household-level income in order to maintain individual control over income Handing…

A Policy Framework for Women-led MSME Access to Finance

Access to finance for women-led-MSMEs can lead to an increase in productive assets, productivity, and stronger economic growth, but access to finance is arguably the most binding constraint to their growth. This Policy Framework proposes six pillars that regulators can adopt to facilitate access to finance for women-led MSMEs. You can download the report here.…

Rapid Response for Social Payments During COVID-19

As countries around the world grapple with the devastating economic impact of the COVID19 pandemic, governments have turned to supplemental cash transfers as a key policy instrument to offset the loss of income. These measures include a range of approaches, from wage subsidies to extended unemployment support and a variety of social welfare payments. There’s…

How Social Norms for Men Restrict Women’s Financial Inclusion

The financial inclusion community has learned a lot in recent years about the role that social norms play in women’s financial inclusion. This article from CGAP takes a step further to explain how social norms affect men and their ability and willingness to support women’s access to financial services.

Agent Network Journeys Toward the Last Mile: A Cross-Country Perspective

Agent  Networks are a critical interface between poor customers and digital financial services (DFS) providers. These networks enable cash-in and cash-out (CICO) transactions that allow customers to convert e-money into cash and cash into e-money—enabling the use of DFS. Therefore, the broader the reach of CICO agent networks, the broader the customer base for DFS…

Financial Inclusion, Regulation and Financially Empowering Africa with Nolwazi Hlophe

Nolwazi Hlophe from the Digital Frontiers Institute talks about financial inclusion, connecting Africa to the world through FinTech and education in rural communities. A great chat about innovation, education, and everything financial in between. Have a listen here!

Blended Finance in the Least Developed Countries 2020

COVID-19 threatens to undo progress achieved towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) over the past five years. Financing the recovery will require a coordinated multilateral response and the use of innovative tools and risk mitigation instruments. Blended finance can help to catalyse much needed additional resources for SDG-aligned…

Revisiting the Measurement of Financial Inclusion of Rural Smallholder Farmers in Nigeria

This study aims to develop and apply a multidimensional measure of financial inclusion to address measurement issues and determine the level of financial inclusion of rural smallholder farmers and the contribution of domain indicators to the level of financial inclusion in Nigeria.

Mobile Money-Enabled Remittances are a Lifeline for Families of Migrant Workers

In 2019, migrants across the globe sent over US$548 billion in remittances to their families in low and middle-income countries. Surpassing aid, and in almost all cases, Foreign Direct Investment, one half of these annual flows reach rural areas where they provide important support to household livelihoods. In this case study, mobile money provider Valyou…

Digitalizing Rural Financial Ecosystems- Journey and Learnings from Digitalization of Dairy Value Chain in Nepal

With more than 66 per cent of Nepalese dependent on agriculture, the introduction of digital financial services (DFS) offerings in the agriculture sector became essential for not only expanding the ecosystem of DFS but also to ensure progressive growth of access to finance in rural areas. The UNCDF partnership with Prabhu Management on dairy digitalization…

Managing Agricultural Risk Through Remittances: the Case of Senegal

This feasibility study explains the role of remittances in agricultural risk management, the challenges facing remittance flows, and the opportunities to enhance the productive use of remittances for agricultural risk management investments.

Debt Relief in the Pandemic: Lessons from India, Peru, and Uganda

The widespread use of debt moratoria in response to the COVID-19 health and economic emergencies has succeeded in stabilizing financial systems and given borrowers all over the world immediate, if temporary, relief. Financial regulators in at least 115 countries in March and April 2020 issued special permission for financial services providers (FSPs) to provide moratoria…

Survey Report on Alternative Finance for MSMEs

MSMEs constitute 90 percent of all businesses and more than 50 percent of the employment globally. In emerging markets, formal MSMEs contribute up to 40 percent of national income. This report by AFI reflects on the economic and social importance of the MSME sector in emerging economies. It explores the significance of available research on…

Exploring the Relationship between Mobile Money Regulation and Usage

Mobile money has helped reduce the financial exclusion gap in low- and middle-income countries, with more than 1 billion registered accounts at the end of 2019. In Sub-Saharan Africa, almost half of mobile money users are reliant solely on mobile money to access financial services. The link between an enabling regulatory framework and a successful…

Bridging the Gap: Emerging Private Sector Response and Recovery Measures for Gender Equality amid COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened existing gender inequalities, exposed fundamental flaws in economic and social systems, and posed a serious threat to the gains made on gender equality. As COVID-19 widens global gender gaps, IFC and UN Women have partnered to showcase a growing number of companies and organizations around the world that are taking…

Climate Risk Insurance: Economic Impacts of Natural Hazards on Vulnerable Populations

The South Pacific region is extremely vulnerable to natural hazards like cyclones, droughts, earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural disasters. The accelerated frequency and severity of the disasters due to climate change have disrupted economic and social progress as well as development gains. With no adequate insurance protection and coverage in the region, the economic impacts…

FATF Update-COVID-19-Related-Money-Laundering-and-Terrorist-Financing-Risks

On 16 December 2020, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) published this paper providing entities with additional information on COVID-19 related to money laundering and terrorist financing risks. The paper covers both changes in predicate offenses and changes in money laundering and terrorist financing activity. It provides selected case studies, displaying criminal activity that has…

Beyond Financial Inclusion: Measuring and Improving Financial Health Outcomes in México

Measuring financial health is a challenge. To date, there is no consensus among experts about the right way to measure it. However, in Mexico, there is now an opportunity to leverage shared understanding of financial health to create a measurement tool that can make financial health more concrete and operational. In this article, FinnSalud explains…

Digital Survey Benchmarks on Digitalisation

Since the inception of microcredit in the 1970s, its business model has seen a number of shifts: in the nineties, the concept of microcredit evolved into a more commercially sustainable microfinance, which included savings. Early 21st century, the financial inclusion paradigm led to further commercialisation and a wider understanding of the industry, which now included…

Mobile Money Enabled Cash Assistance: User Journeys in Burundi

Cash and voucher assistance (CVA) has been gaining traction as an increasing number of humanitarian aid providers step up efforts to make it the default method of aid provision. Mobile money for CVA delivery can have wide-ranging benefits for recipients, humanitarian organisations and private sector organisations alike, but it may not be appropriate in all…

An Unlevel Playing Field: Why Small Businesses Face Disadvantages in Digital Commerce – and How Inclusive Tech Innovations Could Help

COVID-19 has been catastrophic for many sectors and surprisingly beneficial for some – but it’s been especially damaging for micro and small enterprises (MSEs), which are losing business and shuttering at rates faster than large businesses. Whereas large businesses have the market share to withstand this disruption and the cash to make adjustments, corner stores…

Bridging the Financing Gap for Agriculture Cooperatives Through Data-driven Decision-making in Senegal

In 2019, United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) wanted to explore how data driven decision-making and new dimensions of information could reduce the risk of lending to the youth segment – in particular those working in agriculture – providing alternatives for those who do not have traditional credit records. UNCDF has partnered with Dimagi and…

Digital Financial Services in Nigeria – State of the Market Report 2020

This 2020 State of the Market Report explores the state of digital financial services and financial inclusion, providing insights about consumers, providers and regulatory issues in Nigeria. This year’s report focuses on product-market fit across three highly underserved and largely under-represented customer segments – rural dwellers, women and youth. The 2018 National Financial Inclusion Strategy…

Project Helvetia – Settling Tokenised Assets in Central Bank Money

The Swiss National Bank, The Bank for International Settlements’ Innovation Hub (BISIH) Swiss Centre, and SIX Digital Exchange have published the Helvetia report, a two proofs-of-concepts experiment using “near-live” systems to settle digital assets on a distributed ledger with central bank money.   The initiative demonstrated the feasibility and legal robustness of issuing a wholesale CBDC onto a distributed digital asset…

Upscaling and Integrating Gender Savings Groups Into the Formal Financial System

Since 2011, 1.2 billion people have gained access to a bank account or e-money provider, yet over 1.7 billion adults worldwide still do not have access – over 80 percent of these are women, and the global gender access to finance gap remains static at nine percent. Closing the financial inclusion gender gap is a key…

Inclusive AML-CFT Models in Africa: Lessons from Six Financial Service Providers

An inclusive compliance model is a compliance approach that minimises the cost of compliance while still adequately managing risks of money laundering and financing of terrorism (ML-FT). Therefore, inclusive compliance models enable financial institutions to proportionately allocate resources in a way that advances financial inclusion and drives implementation of risk-based approaches. Developing an inclusive compliance…

Handbook on Merchant Payments and Digital Financial Services

This handbook is designed for digital financial service providers wishing to build and manage merchant acceptance networks. Such providers typically include financial institutions, mobile network operators, fintechs, payment service firms, and the like. For these providers, expanding into merchant payments enables them to offer a wider ecosystem of products and services for existing and new…

Open Banking: How to Design for Financial Inclusion (Paper)

Open banking regimes allow a wide range of users, including fintechs, to access the customer data locked inside banks and other financial institutions to develop innovative financial products and services that are lower cost and better suited to the needs of consumers. While many policy makers and regulators in emerging and developing markets recognize the…

The Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa 2020

This report suggests that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the digital landscape around the world. The mobile industry in Sub-Saharan Africa has largely risen to the challenge of keeping individuals and businesses connected during the pandemic, despite changes in data consumption patterns. However, with nearly 800 million people in the region…

What Value do Open APIs bring to the Mobile Money Landscape?

GSMA hosted a four-day industry convening, looking at Open APIs in the mobile money industry. Following growing industry interest in API strategies, providers can drive ecosystem development, enable third-parties to innovate on valuable services, and generate new revenue streams. The interactive event was attended by key business and technical industry stakeholders from mobile money providers,…

Non-Financial Services – The Key to Unlocking the Growth Potential of Women-led SMEs for Banks

This study examines the benefits to banks of integrating NFS into lending. These services can help mitigate the barriers, giving banks a women-focused market. This analysis of five SME banking models, in addition to previously published case studies and other resources, found that well-integrated NFS offers for WSMEs yield positive returns on investment (ROI) within…

How Fintechs can Profit from the Multi-Trillion-Dollar Female Economy

The female economy is large, fast-growing and underserved—and fintechs are well-positioned to tap into it. To help them embrace this win-win opportunity, the Financial Alliance for Women surveyed 168 fintechs and 30 investors and other ecosystem players from around the world. This report explores how fintechs have been approaching and serving the multi-trillion-dollar women’s market…

But How Do You Change Behavior?

Women are not a single market segment – they are heterogenous and approach financial products and services with diverse skills sets and needs. This webinar discusses enabling women’s financial capability through different entry points, optimal approaches to different livelihood segments, and behavior change strategies that may work differently for women and men.

Hey Sister! Show Me the Mobile Money!

Women’s-Global Development and Prosperity Initiative’s digital financial literacy campaign in Ghana, Malawi and Uganda.

Challenging the Myths around Women’s Financial Inclusion

A webinar looking at some of the most common myths around women’s digital financial inclusion and the often-changing reality behind them.

The Role of Gender in Agent Banking : Evidence from the Democratic Republic of Congo

This paper uses a unique data set with 1.1 million customer transactions from a microfinance institution in the Democratic Republic of Congo from 2017 to 2018. The paper provides evidence of assortative gender matching in agent banking transactions, as clients prefer to transact with agents of their own gender. Female clients show a robust preference…

Win From Within: How Fintech Startups Can Grow by Building Value for Existing Users

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the realities for inclusive fintech startups and the financially underserved customers they serve. Coping with lockdowns and social distancing, low-income people around the world are now turning to fintechs to save money, purchase insurance, or transact remotely. But fintechs are facing their own challenges, including unpredictable funding, a volatile investment…

Western Union: Permanent Leader of Money Transfers

This blog post by SaveOnSend provides an analysis of Western Union’s chances of preserving its position in the money transfers market.

Money Transfer Startups: Race Against Time?

This blog post by SaveOnSend provides a comprehensive overview of money transfer startups.

What does it take to nudge low- and moderate income(LMI) population segments to adopt DFS

DFS can help increase the use of financial services, catalyze women’s economic empowerment and promote the development of the overall economy. However, the adoption of DFS amongst the LMI, especially women has been limited. Considering the increasing need for digital payments, especially in the wake of restricted mobility that COVID 19 imposes, MSC attempted to…

Encouraging Effective and Inclusive Savings: Lessons and Best Practices from the European Microfinance Award 2020

2020 was a unique year with so many challenges for everyone within the financial inclusion sector. With businesses shuttered, economies shuddering and a lethal virus showing no signs of going away any time soon,  the households and businesses of the financially excluded are still under incredible pressures. In the past, the European Microfinance Award 2020 on…

Digital Credit Regulation in Tanzania

This case study highlights some key factors that can contribute to the development of responsible digital credit guidelines for regulators and DFS providers, based primarily on the Tanzanian digital credit experience.

Artificial Intelligence and Start-Ups in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: Progress, Promises and Perils

This study examines the current use of AI in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The report maps a sample of 450 AI start-ups in LMICs in Africa and South and Southeast Asia, most of which are early-stage, home-grown solutions with a focus on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It also explores trends and challenges…

Gender transformative approaches for food security, improved nutrition and sustainable agriculture – A compendium of fifteen good practices

The Compendium is a product of the Joint Programme on Gender Transformative Approaches for Food Security and Nutrition implemented by FAO, IFAD and WFP and funded by the European Union. The compendium of 15 good practices of gender transformative approaches (GTAs) includes the individual templates of the 15 good practices, provides a synthesis of the…

What Does It Take To Nudge Low- and Moderate-Income Population Segments to Adopt DFS?

Digital Financial Services (DFS) offer a wide variety of benefits, especially for the low- and middle-income (LMI) segment. DFS specifically helps women use financial services, given the unique challenges that they face. These include their restricted mobility and socio-cultural constraints that limit their usage of brickand-mortar banks. However, the adoption of DFS among the LMI…

A Phone Can Only Do So Much: Why Mobile Access isn’t Leading to Digital Financial Service Usage Among Women in India

India has made significant progress in financial inclusion in recent years. However low-income working women are not benefiting from this progress, even when they receive their wages digitally. To better understand why, MSC and HERproject have researched the financial behaviors of female garment workers in India, with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Gender Transformative Approaches for Food Security, Improved Nutrition and Sustainable Agriculture

Many multilateral and bilateral agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are seeking ways to achieve profound and sustainable development objectives by tackling the root causes of gender inequality. They recognize that while it is necessary to focus on treating the symptoms of gender inequality, such as unequal access to productive resources, this is not enough on…

Managing Risks (More) Effectively: Rethinking Insurance for MSMEs

MSMEs form the backbone of many economies globally and give rise to economic growth, employment and innovation. Whilst COVID-19 has especially exposed the vulnerable MSMEs to a high level of risk, the pandemic is just one infrequent and specific risk. Across the world there is a lack of adequate MSME insurance. This report by CENFRI  on…

The Potential of Digital Platforms as Distributors and Enablers of Financial Services in Africa

The past decade has seen the emergence of digital platforms, which connect buyers and sellers of goods and services and allow them to seamlessly transact with one another online. The platform economy is expected to grow to USD405 billion by 2030, with most of this growth coming from emerging markets. In this series, CENFRI is…

AI Experiments

AI Experiments is a showcase for simple experiments that make it easier for anyone to start exploring machine learning, through pictures, drawings, language, music, and more.

Inside the Regulatory Sandbox: Effects on Fintech Funding

The rise of fintechs promises to spur competition in the financial sector. This could lead to sizeable efficiency gains, more choice for consumers, and enhanced financial inclusion. However, the potentially disruptive growth of firms offering novel products and services poses new challenges for financial stability and consumer protection. In response, policymakers around the world are…

Policy Model on Consumer Protection for Digital Financial Services

The Digital Financial Services Working Group (DFSWG) and the Consumer Empowerment and Market Conduct Working Groups (CEMCWG) codified key policy guidance from relevant AFI knowledge products developed over the decade, coupled with best practices within the AFI network, in a policy model on Consumer Protection for DFS (CP4DFS).

Consumer Protection and COVID-19: Borrower Risks as Economies Reopen

Credit, if managed responsibly, can help financial services providers (FSPs) and their lower income customers resume economic activity and rebuild livelihoods damaged by lockdowns and other measures brought on by the COVID-19 crisis. However, lockdowns have put consumers in financial need and providers under stress, setting the stage for consumer protection challenges to emerge around…

Regional Policy Framework for Enhancing MSME Financing Ecosystem in Africa

The regional policy framework is intended to identify the best practices of MSME financing policy, explore pathways and enabling factors of implementable action plans, and provide policy recommendations to financial sector regulators with regard to access to finance for MSMEs in Africa.

Scoping and Assessment Report – MSME Access to Finance Ecosystem in Africa

The objective of this document is to provide a scope of what has to be addressed in a framework to enhance the MSME financing ecosystem in Africa, and to assess what the most important elements are. This document and the Policy Framework are best read together for a better understanding.

Collecting and Applying Data on Smallholder Agriculture During COVID-19

Collecting data and understanding rural and agricultural livelihoods have always been challenging. Now, facing COVID-19 and related restrictions, understanding customers and developing financial solutions that meet their needs is even harder. To learn more, CGAP and AgriFin, the center of excellence on agriculture finance in the World Bank Group, hosted two video chats in early October with…

Migration and Development Brief 33 Phase II: COVID-19 Crisis Through a Migration Lens

The economic crisis induced by COVID-19 could be long, deep, and pervasive when viewed through a migration lens. In October 2020, COVID19 case numbers rose again to surpass 44 million. The number of fatalities surpassed 1.1 million. A recurrence of COVID19 phases accompanied by lockdowns, travel bans, and social distancing cannot be ruled out well…

A COVID Microfinance Liquidity Tour of Asia

This synthesis document brings together selected aspects of the COVID-19 Microfinance Liquidity Tour of Asia undertaken by M-CRIL over the past few months. In this document, the authors have compiled cross country data emerging from the M-CRIL Advisory Notes covering different types of microfinance service providers (MFSPs) listed below and provided some reflections on the analysis.

Inclusive Digital Banking: Emerging Markets Case Studies

This Working Paper tells the stories of three of these banks: TymeBank in South Africa, Kotak 811 in India, and UnionBank in the Philippines. It takes a detailed look into how the selected businesses operate in their markets, what they do differently from traditional players, and how they are contributing to financial inclusion.

From Financial Inclusion To Inclusive Finance: The Power of Frameworks To Catalyse Change

This article discusses the power of frameworks in shaping research and providing insights for financial inclusion policy and investment.

Alternative Credit Scoring of Micro-, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises

MSMEs account for more than 98% of the business establishments in Hong Kong and employ about 46% of the workforce in the private sector. Yet many face significant challenges in securing a bank loan due to their lack of financial information and the significant burden faced by banks in conducting credit assessments and monitoring related…

Dirty Money: Does the Risk of Infectious Disease Lower Demand for Cash?

The coronavirus pandemic is a global crisis like no other in modern times, and there is a growing apprehension about handling potentially contaminated cash. The IMF has produced this paper as the first empirical attempt in the literature to investigate whether the risk of infectious diseases affects demand for physical cash. That being said, it…

Regional Policy Framework To Strengthen Agent Networks For Digital Financial Services (DFS)

A proper functioning agent network is critical for the overall growth, performance, and sustainability of any Digital Financial Services (DFS) ecosystem. It is critical to ensure that agent networks are properly set up, well-managed, effectively regulated, and supervised in a prudent manner to ensure that the customers they serve, receive suitable high-quality products and services,…

Rapid Innovation: How Fintechs are Adapting Under COVID-19

To understand more about the impact on and the role of these providers, CFI, in partnership with the Swiss Capacity Building Facility, conducted research to understand fintechs’ early adaptation and coping models under COVID-19. This brief draws findings from the Inclusive Fintech 50 applicant data coupled with key informant interviews with investors and fintechs conducted in March…

Guide to Remote Due Diligence

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, founders and investors alike wondered what effects it would have on the startup market. How would companies adapt? What effects would the crisis have on operations? And would investors continue to evaluate potential opportunities? Accion has been working to find answers to these questions —and many more — over the…

Ghana’s Identification Ecosystem

This report provides an overview and analysis of Ghana’s identification ecosystem (IE). It discusses seven major identification (ID) systems: Birth Certificates, Voter ID cards, National Health Insurance cards, Driver’s Licences, Passports, National Identification cards (Ghanacard), and SIM cards. The authors focus on how these ID systems — especially the Ghanacard and Sim cards — shape…

Sustaining Savings Groups Linked to Financial Institutions Amid the COVID-19 Crisis

This blog looks at some of the recommendations put across by MSC on how savings groups can cope with the “new normal life” that has been brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, overcome the economic shocks, and build resilience against similar future pandemics.

Open Banking: How to Design for Financial Inclusion (Webinar)

Opening banking regimes free up the troves of customer data locked inside banks, allowing competitors to access the information and develop innovative financial products and services that have potential to better meet the needs of poor people. In this webinar, CGAP’s Ariadne Plaitakis presented what types of open banking-enabled products and business models CGAP believes…

Gender: The Blind Spot of the COVID-19 Response in Low- and Middle-income Countries

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed unprecedented challenges for governments and citizens around the world, straining health systems, economies, and the very social fabric of nations. This blog explores four potential fallouts of COVID-19 that will create lasting socio-economic impact on women in India and other LMI countries.

From Insights to Action: Gender Equality in the Wake of COVID-19

This publication summarizes data, research, and policy work by UN Women’s Policy and Programme Division on the pandemic’s impact on women and girls, including the impact on extreme poverty, employment, health, unpaid care, and violence against women and girls. The publication also brings into focus the paucity of gender data and calls for greater investment…

Optimizing Awareness, Communication, and Outreach for Government Payments in Times of Crisis

This paper outlines the essential components of communication and outreach programs for both the supply and demand side. It quotes examples from PMKGY, the relief package launched by the Government of India amid the COVID-19 outbreak, to highlight the challenges around communication that recipients and frontline workers faced.

Addressing the Weak Link in COVID-19 Relief: How Improving Strategic Communications can Boost the Impact of Social Protection Programs

Nations worldwide have responded to COVID-19 through 1,100 social protection programs to help 1.8 billion-plus people. Yet recipients are largely in the dark about the programs and do not know how to access funds. This blog examines the importance of better communication around social protection programs, particularly for the vulnerable population.

The State of Mobile Internet Connectivity Report 2020

The State of Mobile Internet Connectivity report is the annual flagship publication of the Connected Society programme. This report is in its third year and provides the mobile industry and other stakeholders with a comprehensive overview of the trends in global connectivity to inform progress towards closing the coverage and usage gaps and the key challenges.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Disruptive Technology Adoption in Emerging Markets

Disruptive technologies—like AI, blockchain, robotics, and 3D printing—are playing a key role in supporting the COVID-19 response and recovery efforts in emerging markets. Despite uncertainties surrounding the economic outlook post–COVID-19, emerging markets are expected to experience an acceleration in the adoption of disruptive technologies and a proliferation of online business models and platforms. This note…

Leveraging Islamic Fintech to Improve Financial Inclusion

Islamic finance is a fast-booming segment of global finance. Serving a core population of 1.8 billion Muslims world-wide and a wider global ethical finance audience, its role is growing in global significance especially as it relates to global social financing needs. The global fintech revolution is having a similar impact for Islamic finance through the…

Introduction to Open APIs for Digital Finance

CGAP’s collection of tools and resources on open APIs. Digital financial services providers will find here information to help them decide whether open APIs make sense for their business and, if so, how to implement an open API strategy. Open APIs can unlock new revenue streams and customer bases for providers while catalyzing a robust,…

COVID-19 and SME Failures

This paper estimates the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on business failures among small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) in seventeen countries using a large representative firm-level database. Done so by using a simple model of firm cost-minimization and measure each firm’s liquidity shortfall during and after COVID-19. The framework allows for a rich combination…

Debt Restructuring in Microfinance

In July 2020, nearly 300 participants from 30 countries joined CGAP workshops to discuss how the COVID-19 crisis is affecting MFPs and their funders, microfinance investment vehicles (MIVs), in terms of renegotiating and restructuring debt claims on distressed MFPs. This Briefing touches on the key insights and recommendations that emerged from the workshops. The views…

South Korea’s and Japan’s Central Banks Will Start Testing their CBDCs in 2021

In April 2020, after several years of work, the Chinese Government announced the starting of the tests of the country’s central bank digital currency (CBDC), DCEP (Digital Currency Electronic Payment), in four major cities. However, many other Asian countries have shown their interest in developing and potentially deploying their own CBDCs. This list includes countries…

Women’s Economic Empowerment and Digital Finance (WEE-DiFine)

The White Paper focuses on developing a conceptual framework to explore the pathways linking WEE and DFS in great detail, reviews the current empirical evidence for each of these pathways, identifies challenges observed in interpreting the evidence, and highlights a set of priority questions that cut across the different research areas to be explored in…

Tracking Mobile Money Regulatory Responses to COVID-19 – Part 2

This blog, provides an update of the COVID-19 Response Tracker and examines the impact of the regulatory measures on mobile money operators.

Achieving Development and Acceptance of an Open and Inclusive Digital Payments Infrastructure

This report was developed for financial inclusion policymakers and payment service regulators, this note proposes policy options and practical actions that can help moving toward developing open and inclusive digital payment infrastructures, while also incentivizing the acceptance and use of digital payments.

Bank of England Settlement Accounts

This paper states the Bank’s policy for providing settlement services to payment systems, for providing settlement accounts in sterling in the Bank’s Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) system and for granting access to intraday liquidity.

Promoting Digital and Innovative SME Financing

Access to finance is a critical barrier for SMEs to start, sustain and grow their businesses.  About half of formal SMEs do not have access to formal credit, and instead rely on internal funds, or cash from friends and family, to launch and initially run their business.  An extensive survey of SMEs in 135 countries…

G-20: Data Enhancement and Coordination in SME Finance Report

Annual aggregate data is captured annually for only a minority of the world’s countries by the IMF, OECD and others.  Little if any data is available at country level on financing for women entrepreneurs, young entrepreneurs or other key segments of interest to GPFI’s Financial Inclusion Action Plan.  Data collected by the IFIs and DFIs…

G20/OECD INFE Policy Guidance on Digitalisation and Financial Literacy

The digitalisation of financial products and services, and the consequent need to strengthen digital financial literacy has become an important component of the global policy-making agenda. This guidance aims to identify and promote effective initiatives that enhance digital and financial literacy in light of the unique characteristics, advantages, and risks of digital financial services and…

G20 Fukuoka Policy Priorities on Aging and Financial Inclusion

Aging is a global phenomenon. The number, and the proportion as a share of the population, of older people are both growing rapidly in many developed and developing countries. Other countries will experience such growth in years to come.  The United Nations predicts that, by 2050, there will be over two billion people aged 60 and…

G20 High-Level Policy Guidelines on Digital Financial Inclusion for Youth, Women and SMEs

The G20 High-Level Policy Guidelines on Digital Financial Inclusion for Youth, Women and SMEs (HLPGs) provides sets of featured policy options targeting financial inclusion gaps for youth (subject to child protection frameworks where relevant), women and SMEs through digital financial services in order to reach conditions in which all people can live, work and thrive;…

Advancing Women’s Digital Financial Inclusion

Digital financial services have expanded opportunities for millions of women across the globe. More than 240 million more women now have an account with a financial institution or mobile money service, compared to 2014. Through this increased engagement in the formal economy, women’s resilience to financial, economic and health shocks is improving.  However, there remains…

Mobile Money Saving Accounts: Helping the Bottom of the Pyramid to Save in Zimbabwe

 This paper on Academia discusses a serious problem confronting Zimbabwe, the savings gap, which essentially means that Zimbabwe as an economy cannot fund economic growth from domestic saving. There is a directly relationship between savings and income. Since savings largely depend on income, the low levels of income in the country translate into low levels of…

Policy Model for National Financial Inclusion Strategy

The AFI Member network’s knowledge and experience in developing, implementing, and revising National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) have had a significant impact on advancing financial inclusion. In general, NFIS have created enabling environments and the awareness for the deployment of strategic measures driving financial inclusion initiatives with the aim of achieving the specific financial inclusion goals as…

Digitizing Savings Groups: Evidence from Tanzania

Digital financial services reach men and women where they live, work and play—bringing banking services to customers and leaping over the last mile problem, the challenges in delivery of goods and services to the end of the supply. However, for many low-income people, particularly women, these services remain out of reach for a variety of…

Four Guiding Principles for User Research with Low-Income Women in Emerging Markets

Women’s World Banking have developed four principles to frame their user research with women in low- and middle-income countries, plus tips for putting each principle into practice during research design, implementation, and interpretation.

Data Protection and Privacy for Alternative Data

The objective of this paper is to provide guidance for countries to use in considering key options to mitigate risks associated with data protection and privacy, especially related to alternative data, but not to direct adoption of unduly prescriptive legislative provisions.

Cybersecurity and Financial Inclusion: Protecting Customers, Building Trust

Cyber-threats have become a growing concern in emerging financial markets and are weakening consumer trust and confidence in digital financial services. Industry players and governments in emerging markets are becoming aware of the need to develop regulatory frameworks, industry guidance and supervisory processes. However, cybersecurity requires expertise and resources that are often scarce in developing…

How Gender Impacts Insurance Perceptions

Pula, which provides accessible, scalable insurance solutions for smallholder farmers by bundling insurance with the inputs farmers already use including seeds and fertiliser, has produced a new learning report exploring how gender plays a role in registration decisions in East and Southern Africa. The report, co-funded by Shell Foundation and the UK government, uses Pula’s data on…

The Hidden Pitfalls of Digitalisation

This chapter of BIO’s digital survey looks at risks digital innovation could pose for financial inclusion.

Who are the Innovators, MFIs or Commercial Banks?

This chapter of BIO’s digital survey looks at digital products and services in relation to MFIs and commercial banks.

An Imperitive Need for a New Social Order in Microfinance Community – Towards Ushering in a Resilient Ecosystem in the Battle Against Corona Pandemic

The paper presented by Research Gate tries to understand the challenges that the Microfinance industry is facing during the pandemic, on the supply side, and the dynamics of social relations of the poor in the said bio war on the demand side, and suggest a new social order towards ushering in a resilient ecosystem in…

Digital Initiatives by Shakti Foundation for Disadvantaged Women: A Lesson for Progressive MFIs in Bangladesh

MicroSave Consulting has issued two case studies concerning Shakti Foundation’s digital initiatives for women. The first case study charts the journey of women clients of Shakti Foundation for Disadvantaged Women toward the adoption of voluntary savings products that ride on digital channels. While the second case study charts how Shakti Foundation for Disadvantaged Women utilized…

A Case Study in Interoperable Payments in Myanmar’s Microfinance Industry Part 1, 2 & 3

Modusbox collaborated with UNCDF Myanmar on a six-month-long interoperability project in Myanmar’s microfinance industry to demonstrate the benefits of interoperable, real-time payments for microfinance customers in Myanmar. Part 1: The Challenges Part 2: Standardizing Digital Loan Repayments Part 3: 5 Takeaways for Banks and Regulators

Why the Economic Response to COVID-19 Needs to be Financially Inclusive and Gender Sensitive

The Special Report highlights key gender-related issues facing society during the COVID-19 pandemic and some of the specific gender-sensitive financial inclusion responses that policymakers can undertake to ensure their mitigation and recovery activities are fully inclusive and work towards the network’s commitments in the Denarau Action Plan Gender is a cross-cutting theme in all aspects…

Payment Aspects of Financial Inclusion: Application Tools

This report by BIS  follows the publication of Payment aspects of financial inclusion (PAFI) in 2016 and Payment aspects of financial inclusion in the fintech era in April 2020. The 2016 report outlined seven guiding principles for public and private sector stakeholders and recommended key actions for countries seeking to implement these principles, while the April 2020 report…

G20/OECD Policy Guidance on Financial Consumer Protection Approaches in the Digital Age

In an increasingly digital environment for financial products and services with the potential to support greater financial inclusion and inclusive growth, the need for effective financial consumer protection is more important than ever. At the same time, the policies and approaches developed and adopted by financial consumer protection authorities need to evolve and adapt in…

Client Perspectives on Consumer Protection: Analysis of a Client Survey in Cambodia

This report shares findings from a client survey in Cambodia on the consumer protection practices of financial service providers. A guidance note is also provided for organizations seeking to conduct similar surveys by IVR.

How to Build a Regulatory Sandbox: A Practical Guide for Policy Makers

Regulatory sandboxes have attracted significant attention for their potential to empower financial regulators struggling with fast-paced innovation. Through a sandbox, regulators can carefully monitor digital products, services and business models in a live testing environment, enabling firms to bring innovations to market more quickly and readily. But when and under what circumstance sandboxes are the…

Mobile for Humanitarian Innovation Podcast Series

Tune in to hear the Mobile for Humanitarian Innovation (M4H) team discuss key issues with their mobile network operator and humanitarian partners in this podcast series.

Igniting SDG Progress Through Digital Financial Inclusion

How can this digital revolution help us reach the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals more quickly? One important answer is through digital financial inclusion. Inclusive digital financial services refer to mobile money, online accounts, electronic payments, insurance and credit, combinations of them and newer fintech apps, that reach people who were formerly excluded. Digital financial inclusion,…

Financial Literacy Training Toolkit for Refugees

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), and PHB have developed a financial literacy training toolkit customized to meet the needs and realities of refugees and refugee hosting communities in Uganda.

Instant Payments and Guidelines for the Brazilian Instant Payments Ecosystem

Here the Central Bank of Brazil discusses instant payments, highlighting implementation, ecosystem and benefits. Where this paper builds on the discussion, offering guidelines for Brazilian instant payments.

Identity Proofing for COVID-19 Recovery

In order to address the systemic as well as the immediate challenges associated with COVID-19, Cenfri and FSD Africa have developed a guidance note, targeted at regulators, financial service providers and market facilitators, that provides clear steps and actions to take in transitioning toward remote identity proofing. The guidance highlights how traditional modalities for customer due diligence…

Digital Agriculture Maps

The GSMA AgriTech’s Digital Agriculture Maps report (DAMs), produced in collaboration with IDH Farmfit, offers a snapshot into the digital agriculture landscape in Low and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs). DAMs helps industry practitioners and potential investors understand key trends and emerging opportunities in the sector. It encourages innovation and adoption of best practices to support scalable…

Connected Society Mobile Internet Skills Training Toolkit

The Connected Society programme works with the mobile industry, tech companies, the development community and governments to increase access to and adoption of the mobile internet, focusing on underserved population groups in developing markets. One of their key activities is to generate and disseminate insights and learnings on the mobile internet coverage and usage gap.

Global State of Small Business

The Global State of Small Business Report, based on the Future of Business Survey, is an ongoing research collaboration by Facebook, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the World Bank to survey small and medium-sized businesses around the world over a six-month period in the context of COVID-19. The aim of these…

Beyond Credit: 3 Emerging Opportunities for Fintech Startups in the Gig Economy

According to BFA Global’s Catalyst Fund, experts from India and East Africa suggest that fintech startups and digital platforms should consider three additional opportunities: offering additional financial services; supporting skill-building and structured paths to career formalization; and expanding to serve adjacent populations.

Measuring Microfinance Impact: A Practitioner Perspective and Working Methodology

This paper results from a research project by the EIF on “Measuring Microfinance Impact in the EU. Policy recommendations for Financial and Social Inclusion” (MeMI). The aim of the project is to contribute to the debate whether microfinance is able to deliver the expected impact in terms of financial and social inclusion.

A Framework for Understanding the Financial Health of MSME Entrepreneurs

This paper presents CFI’s conceptual framework for understanding MSME financial health along with a survey instrument that measures indicators for each factor in the framework.

GSMA Mobile Money API

The GSMA Mobile Money API is an initiative developed through collaboration between the mobile money industry and the GSMA, aimed at helping the mobile money industry speak the same technical language by providing a modern harmonised API for mobile money transactions and management that is both easy to use and secure.

Green Delta, Bangladesh – The Case for Insuring Women for a Better Tomorrow

Green Delta Insurance Company (GDIC), a private non-life insurer in Bangladesh, was founded as a public limited company in December 1985. In 2013, GDIC became the first South Asian insurance company to receive equity investment from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group. GDIC differs from most of Bangladesh’s non-life…

De-risking in Africa: Illicit Financial Flows and Regional Economic Hubs

This two-note series from The Centre for Financial Regulation and Inclusion, highlights the relationship between de-risking, IFFs and capital flows in the context of regional economic hubs. Detailing the concept of a regional economic hub, and exploring the methodologies for determining which countries are hubs within their respective regions.

(Un)stacking Financial Market Infrastructure

The biggest challenges in scaling effective financial infrastructures that work for poor people often are not about technology. Instead, they often revolve around questions of ownership, governance, economics, regulation, and political economy. These challenges are not small, but when addressed effectively, a system can emerge that improves the value of financial services for poor people.…

Digital Cash Transfers in Times of COVID-19: Opportunities and Considerations for Women’s Inclusion and Empowerment

Women’s economic empowerment will be essential for a global economic recovery. Given pre-existing gender gaps, there are concerns about exclusion for many of the social assistance programs already being rolled out around the world. Social protection systems that ignore gender inequality will likely fail to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 for women, and, at worst,…

Global Microscope 2019: The Enabling Environment for Financial Inclusion

The Global Microscope for Financial Inclusion, now in its 12th year, is a benchmarking index that assesses the enabling environment for financial access in 55 countries. The 2019 Microscope features 11 new indicators to better assess what governments are doing to address the gender gap in financial inclusion.

Case Study: Modernizing the Customer Experience Through Communications Technology

FINCA Forward implemented a four-month proof-of-concept (POC) of the Salutat solution in Guatemala to explore if their features could deliver a rich, modernized, and personalized customer experience in which individual needs are known and satisfied. The POC proved that Salutat’s solution had the potential to strengthen engagement with customers.

We Need to Support Growth of Digital Assistive Tech Innovation in Africa and Asia

The GSMA Assistive Tech team, together with Urban Emerge, conducted a landscape study to identify digital solutions emerging from Africa and Asia that are addressing the needs of people with disabilities.

Remittances and Financial Inclusion: “Sending Money Home” in the COVID Era

CFI spoke with the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) about the explosive growth of digital remittances in recent months, the drive to lower transaction fees, support for scaling digital innovation, and more. This is the second in an occasional series of interviews with professionals from development finance institutions, international financial institutions, and donor agencies…

SDGs & Socially Responsible Finance (SRF) – Case Studies from Selected AFI Members

This case study examines the role of financial institutions in achieving the UN SDGs through socially responsible finance (SRF), a broad range of political and commercial adjustments aimed at ensuring financial systems protect society and the environment.

Impact of Covid-19 on Fintechs

Like other businesses, FinTechs too have been struggling to cope with the Pandemic. The reports compiled by MicroSave Consulting, highlight the impact of the pandemic on FinTechs in Indonesia and India.  

Preserving Liquidity: Policymaker Responses to COVID-19 and the Impact on Low-Income Customers

This paper examines how COVID-era economic policy measures – specifically those addressing liquidity – are directly affecting low-income segments and the financial institutions that serve them. In particular, the paper reviews the liquidity needs of financial institutions serving low-income customers in light of COVID-19, provides examples of policy measures being taken around the world to…

QR Code Merchant Payments: A Growth Opportunity for Mobile Money Providers

The Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA) compiled a report on QR code merchant payments and their relationship with mobile money providers (MMPs). Describing MMPs as key players in the provision of financial services in emerging markets, and why MMPs see QR code merchant payments as a potential adjacent opportunity to expand their products and…

Decoupling Fintech Regulations from Mainstream Banks: A Catalyst for Innovation

This webinar organised by Digital Finance Professionals Ghana, discussed global trends in the DFS space and highlight strides that Ghana has chalked in growing its DFS market. Panelists for the webinar were: Derek B. Layrea – Head, Research and Communications, of Telecoms Chamber David Porteous – Chairman of Digital Frontiers and CEO of BFA Global…

Financial Inclusion Compass

The Financial Inclusion Compass was launched by European Microfinance Platform in 2018. The publication is based on a sector-wide mixed-methodology survey of various stakeholders, giving the chance for practitioners, investors, donors, academics and support service providers, among others to present their thoughts on the trends, future areas of focus, challenges and opportunities for inclusive finance…

Women, Work and ID

Digital identity — or identification in a digital age — is often pursued from the supply side, in terms of increasing access to legal identification. Caribou Digital, supported by the Australian Government, through the Commonwealth Digital Identity Initiative, conducted qualitative research on women, work and ID in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in 2019. This report, shares…

Eswatini Central Bank Digital Currency Diagnostic Study

The Centre for Financial Regulation and Inclusion in partnership with The Central Bank of Eswatini conducted a diagnostic study which investigated the potential for a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) and the possible use cases for the implementation of a CBDC in Eswatini. This report provides a summary of the study findings.  

Financial Inclusion for Fishing Communities through Digital Identity – Mobitel Sri Lanka

The Mobile for Development Digital Identity programme has been supporting digital identity innovations to improve lives across Asia and Africa. Here is a mobile digital identity use case, of enabling financial inclusion for informal fishing communities in Sri Lanka, developed in partnership with Mobitel Sri Lanka.

Lending Volumes to Agricultural SMEs Falling Short

The 2020 CSAF State of the Sector Report reflects on the present and future impacts of COVID-19 across the agriculture sector. CSAF’s data partner  analyzed 2019 data from CSAF’s alliance of 15 lenders, which shows that lending volumes to agricultural small and medium enterprises are nowhere near what’s needed to achieve the sector’s impact potential.

Technology Building Blocks for an Open API Strategy

For financial services providers looking to open APIs, the right combination of people, processes, and technology is essential. Too often, however, business leaders do not engage on key technology considerations, and business strategy is kept separate from technology strategy. This can lead to technically unreliable solutions that require intensive, ongoing technical support and create financial…

How to Engage Third Parties with Your Open APIs

This highlights deck from CGAP aims to drive awareness and use of APIs. It seeks to help DFS providers understand the differing needs of third parties across different segments, identify engagement activities that can address those needs, and start to think about an engagement strategy that is aligned with internal priorities and capacity. It will…

Delivering on the Potential of Digitized G2P: Driving Women’s Financial Inclusion and Empowerment Through Indonesia’s Program Keluarga Harapan

Financial institutions and governments have been working for years to leverage digitized G2P for women’s financial inclusion and economic empowerment. COVID-19 has increased the stakes, as governments look to use G2P programs to strengthen women’s resilience. New research from Women’s World Banking offers insights on Indonesia’s PKH program, the country’s largest conditional cash transfer.

Living on Little – Kenya Financial Diaries

Living on Little, by Julie Zollmann, illuminates the many deep and overlooked ways that scarcity shapes the lives of ordinary Kenyans. Drawing on four years of systematic research with nearly 300 low-income families, this book offers readers a new and intimate perspective on poverty. Living on very little money doesn’t just mean that you worry…

Making Mobile Phones Affordable in Malawi

Mobile technology plays a huge role in financial inclusion and accessibility. This article talks about the affordability of mobile phones and the impacts of that in Malawi.

Good ID in Latin America

Digital identity is essential for the sustainable digital transformation of society, the public sector and the economy. One question arises: Under what circumstances can digital identification be a tool for inclusion or pose a risk to the rights of individuals? Amid this dilemma comes the global Good ID movement, which seeks to recognize and promote the…

The Global State of Small Business Report

The Global State of Small Business Report, based on the Future of Business Survey, is an ongoing research collaboration by Facebook, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the World Bank to survey small and medium-sized businesses around the world over a six-month period in the context of COVID-19. The aim of these…

Garment Worker Diary Reports

The Garment Worker Diaries collect regular, credible data on the work hours, income, expenses, and financial tool use of workers in the global apparel and textile supply chain in producing countries. The objective of the project is to have the data inform: government policy decisions, collective bargaining, and factory and brand initiatives related to improving…

Inclusive Tech: Overcoming Barriers to Scale in Emerging Markets

Technology undoubtedly has the potential to improve the access, quality and relevance of financial services for underserved customers around the world. Dynamic tech startups lie at the forefront of innovation in this space, harnessing technology, data and lean operating models to design more affordable, accessible and appropriate products that meet the unique needs of underserved…

The Journeys Project

This site features the long-distance journeys of dispossessed people — refugees, migrants and asylum seekers who have traveled far to escape persecution and grinding poverty. We examine their stories though a financial lens to better understand the costs and strategies involved in their journeys as well as the economic approaches they use when putting down roots…

AXA Mansard, Nigeria – The Case for Insuring Women for a Better Tomorrow

In 2016, AXA Mansard—one of Nigeria’s largest insurance companies—began differentiating itself in an increasingly competitive retail market by focusing on women. With support from International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) Women’s Insurance Program, the company sought to become the preferred insurer and the employer of choice for Nigerian women. This led the company to conduct market research…

General Information on Client Protection Law and Regulation

This list is the result of desk research on law and regulation regarding client protection in microfinance.

Case Study: Women’s Empowerment through Financial Inclusion Technology

This case study from FINCA speaks directly to the promotion of financial inclusion for women and equal access to capital, markets, digital technology and business development services. The initiative is a true testament to how access to credit, mobile technology and digital literacy are jointly contributing toward women’s economic empowerment.

1st For Women South Africa, The Case for Insuring Women for a Better Tomorrow

IFC has generated a case study on 1st for Women Insurance (1st for Women), which was launched in 2004 to provide insurance solutions specifically designed for South African women—a first in the country. The case study examines 1st for Women’s approach, the South African women’s market and developing women-centric insurance products.

The Scale and Usage of Digital Platform Ecosystems in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa

Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa are leading digital app markets in Africa. The relatively high levels of app usage across these markets are driven by expanded smartphone penetration, as well as higher levels of access to digital financial services, including mobile money. This series of infographics showcases the data on the size and scale of…

How the Development Sector is Channeling Money to Digital Financial Services

Development funders are increasingly embracing the potential of digital financial services (DFS) to promote financial inclusion. As these funders – bilaterals, multilaterals, development finance institutions and private foundations – continue to look for ways to respond to emerging crises and opportunities, the support for digital finance and the ecosystem around it is increasing in prominence.…

How to Measure the Gender Impact of Investments

Within the field of impact investing, the emergence of Gender-Smart Investing (GSI) carries major significance. The growth of this investment lens has been rapid and the amounts invested are noteworthy. In 2018, 496 institutional asset owners reported that they applied gender lens criteria to $868 billion in assets; more than double the $397 billion identified…

Finance for Smallholders

The NpM, Platform for Inclusive Finance (NpM), Rural Finance working group undertook a collaborative study of smallholder finance through or with farmers’ organisations that included 14 projects of partners in Ethiopia, Mali, Rwanda and Uganda.

Policy Options in a Post-COVID-19 Africa

A COVID-19 policy response framework to recover and adapt. COVID-19 is leaving no country unaffected. The global scale of the pandemic is affecting trade, capital flows, tourism and remittances, while lockdown or other measures to contain the spread of the virus are affecting domestic output and livelihoods. Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), where most economies were in a…

Growing Digital Financial Inclusion in Senegal

In 2014, Mastercard Foundation and UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) formed a partnership to try to replicate and scale a model that had found success in the Pacific region – taking a market development approach to increasing digital financial inclusion. Through the partnership, UNCDF was able to expand the Mobile Money for the Poor programme…

Growing Digital Financial Inclusion in Zambia

In 2014, Mastercard Foundation and UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) formed a partnership to try to replicate and scale a model that had found success in the Pacific region – taking a market development approach to increasing digital financial inclusion. Through the partnership, UNCDF was able to expand the Mobile Money for the Poor programme…

Could the Poor Bank on Stablecoins?

Emerging technology is driving optimism about building a more inclusive digital economy. Will one innovation—a digital asset known as stablecoins—expand access to financial services among the poor and unbanked? Success may depend on innovators’ answers to five questions—and how regulators and consumers respond. This note by F. Christopher Calabia encourages further study of these questions…

Innovative Agri-Finance Challenge Fund Playbook

The Innovative Agri-Finance Challenge Fund Playbook is a collaborative effort to assist challenge fund managers, implementers, technical assistance providers, donors and other stakeholders in managing challenge funds effectively and improving the design and implementation of future challenge fund mechanisms.

Webinar on Demand: Top 10 Recommendations for Reaching Women with Mobile Across Low- and Middle-income Countries

This GSMA hosted webinar, considers real-life examples of what mobile operators are doing to reach female customers and discusses their top 10 recommendations for reaching women with mobile.

Inclusive FinTechs in Francophone Africa: Benin report

Although in early stages, the upcoming National Financial Inclusion Strategy of Benin will help increase opportunities for FinTechs in Benin, especially if they spend time to understand the market and understand how they can add value to it by working with incumbents. The key success factors for FinTechs to stimulate financial inclusion in Benin are…

India’s New Approach to Personal Data-Sharing

Over the past decade, India’s investments in its digital financial infrastructure—known as “India Stack”—have sped up the large-scale digitization of people’s financial lives. As more and more people begin to conduct transactions online, questions have emerged about how to provide millions of customers adequate data protection and privacy while allowing their data to flow throughout…

Advancing Women’s Digital Financial Inclusion

Digital financial services have expanded opportunities for millions of women across the globe. More than 240 million more women now have an account with a financial institution or mobile money service, compared to 2014. Through this increased engagement in the formal economy, women’s resilience to financial, economic and health shocks is improving. However, there remains…

Enhancing Cross-border Payments: Building Blocks of a Global Roadmap

The G20 has made enhancing cross-border payments a priority during the 2020 Saudi Arabian Presidency. Faster, cheaper, more transparent and more inclusive cross-border payment services would deliver widespread benefits for citizens and economies worldwide, supporting economic growth, international trade, global development and financial inclusion. This CPMI report, and its accompanying technical background report, represent the output…

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on CICO agents in Kenya

Microsave’s latest research on the impact of the COVID 19 on CICO agents in Kenya provides a comprehensive overview of the challenges that CICO agents currently face and their coping strategies. The report provides recommendations for policymakers and financial service providers to support them. The report highlights that the CICO agents face severe health risks…

KYC Innovations, Financial Inclusion and Integrity in Selected AFI Member Countries

It is estimated that approximately one billion people across the world do not have access to an officially recognizable identity. The accurate verification of identity is integral to the Know Your Customer (KYC) processes necessary for compliance with Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regulation. The inability of financial institutions to properly verify…

Advancing the Digital Financial Inclusion of Youth

The focus on youth reflects the fact that almost half of the world’s 1.2bn young people aged between 15-24 remain unbanked. This report examines the factors that contribute to youth financial inclusion and the role of digital financial services in meeting young people’s financial needs. It then explores opportunities and challenges relating to advancing youth…

Governing Artificial Intelligence in Banking

AI is changing the face of the banking industry. How can banks meet the governance challenges and take advantage of this game-changing technology? To answer this crucial question, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and Temenos have produced this new report, Overseeing AI: Governing Artificial Intelligence in Banking Key findings in the report include: 77% of banking…

Payment aspects of Financial Inclusion

The Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures and the World Bank Group have issued the final report on Payment aspects of financial inclusion. This builds on an earlier version of the report that underwent public consultation in late 2015 and seeks to tackle barriers to the adoption and usage of transaction accounts, which sit at the…

FinTech Start-ups in Côte d’Ivoire amid COVID-19: Expectations from the Government and the Regulator

This overview from Microsave gives a unique glimpse of the FinTech ecosystem of Côte d’Ivoire, how it has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and what measures and guidelines are being proposed and implemented by the government and regulators of the country. It can also be accessed in French here.

Review and Analysis of Identification and Registration Systems in Protracted and Recurrent Crisis

Data systems to register and identify recipients of transfers underpin everything in a targeted distribution system in terms of who is eligible, who is not, why, for what and for how long. Data collection for these systems is often the first contact point between crisis-affected populations and responders. This research on this topic explores the…

Policy Framework for Leveraging Digital Financial Services to Respond to Global Emergencies – Case of COVID-19

The global pandemic COVID-19 and the ensuing emergencies have reinforced the urgency of using Digital Financial Services (DFS) to preserve the functioning of financial systems and the security of people during the period of declining demand, reduced supplies, and tightening credit terms. Digital payments, particularly when accompanied by digital financial Infrastructure and enabling regulations, help…

Central Banks and Payments in the Digital Era

This report from BIS, highlights the role central banks play in maintaining the safety and integrity of the payment system and reviews how central banks are embracing innovation.

Covid-19: Boon and bane for digital payments and financial inclusion

This brief compares the approaches taken by authorities in different countries, examining the different drivers for supporting the fintech industry during the pandemic. Section 2 looks at measures to facilitate use of digital payments during lockdowns. Section 3 explores measures to safeguard the fintech sector and promote innovation in payments, as countries tentatively move towards…

The Global Fintech Index

The Global Fintech Index launched the world’s first real-time ranking of fintech ecosystems and fintech companies globally. It ranks over 60 countries and 230 cities according to the strength of their Fintech ecosystem.

MSME Finance Gap Data

Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are one of the strongest drivers of economic development, innovation and employment. Access to finance is frequently identified as a critical barrier to growth for MSMEs. Creating opportunities for MSMEs in emerging markets is a key way to advance economic development and reduce poverty. The private and public sector…

Inclusive Integrity Toolkit

Countries in the sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region have been on a development curve in setting up effective Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) regulatory responses that meet the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards. This toolkit is the first of its kind and benefits from extensive comments and reviews from FATF as…

Market Scoping Study for the Digitization of the Fish Value Chain in Uganda

Over the past five years, UNCDF has been working to stimulate private sector engagement in rural areas of Uganda through digital bulk payment projects across the following five agricultural value chains; coffee, dairy, maize, seed oil and tea. The digitization of these value chains brought about significant benefits and opportunities to agribusinesses in the developing…

Biometric Recognition and Authentication Systems

This guidance outlines the security profiles of biometric recognition technologies, and how to build secure authentication systems which incorporate them. This document is concerned with biometric systems for the verification of individuals, and will cover only those modalities which are commercially available, and appropriate to the field of cyber security. These are: fingerprint, face, iris, vein pattern, and speaker recognition.

Payment facilities and Africa’s platform ecosystem: What does the data tell us?

Digital platforms, also known as multi-sided marketplaces, are seamlessly matching customers to suppliers of goods and services in e-commerce and other emerging industries, thereby creating new pathways for individuals to participate in the digital economy. At the heart of the rapid rise of Africa’s digital platforms are the payment methods and channels that facilitate and…

The Hidden Costs of Cash to Ghana’s Cocoa Sector

In Ghana, cash is the primary payment method used to purchase cocoa, with over 90% of farmer-level transactions (more than GHS 7 billion, or USD 1.26 billion) conducted using cash every year. As the cocoa sector considers its transition to digital payments, this report seeks to determine the overall costs and risks of using cash,…

The Causes and Consequences of Mobile Money Taxation

Mobile money taxation is a controversial subject. On the one hand mobile money has been something of a development success story in those countries where it has taken hold. On the other, developing countries face a range of issues when it comes to raising sufficient revenue to fund public services. This paper from the GSMA takes a fresh…

Digital Savings Groups

The SEEP Network defines digital savings groups (DSGs) as “technologies and systems that digitize savings group records, procedures or transactions.” What is most exciting about the growing range of DSG solutions is their potential for scale – creating new incentives for market actors, reducing the cost of training, and dramatically increasing the potential for outreach.…

A Survey of Research on Retail Central Bank Digital Currency

This paper examines key considerations around central bank digital currency (CBDC) for use by the general public, based on a comprehensive review of recent research, central bank experiments, and ongoing discussions among stakeholders. It looks at the reasons why central banks are exploring retail CBDC issuance, policy and design considerations; legal, governance and regulatory perspectives;…

Innovative Mobile Digital Identity Solutions: Financial Inclusion and Birth Registration

This case study looks at two start-ups that are using mobile technology to establish functional and foundational identities in the Caribbean and Burkina Faso, and looks at how those could be developed to provide people with further access to services.

Innovation Ecosystems

Innovations of all kinds contribute to greater economic growth, and tech innovations, in particular, can increase digital inclusion for individuals. But this doesn’t happen in a vacuum. For an innovation ecosystem to flourish, you need tech-savvy entrepreneurs, access to finance and a balanced network of connectors, plus an enabling environment. These ecosystems consist of, among…

Covid-19 and Remittances in Africa

The spread of Covid-19 and ‘stay at home’ measures in response to it are dramatically reshaping global societies and economies. This report from the European Commission contributes to understanding the potential economic implications of the Covid-19 crisis by focusing on its implications for migrant remittances in Africa. Large declines in remittance inflows could affect the…

How Mobile Money is Increasingly Interoperable

Achieving fully interoperable mobile money services that fulfil the needs of customers remains a goal for both the industry and the financial inclusion community. Emerging evidence from six markets sheds light on why this is the case. As more countries consider and implement a mobile money interoperability solution, this report from GSMA builds the evidence base…

COVID-19 and the Insurance Industry: Why a Gender-Sensitive Response Matters

Women play key roles in their homes, communities, and businesses. If insurers develop targeted approaches and products for women, they have the potential to earn up to $1.7 trillion by 2030. They can also help increase women’s understanding and willingness to buy insurance products to better protect their families or the companies women own or operate. The…

Remittances in Times of Crisis: Facing the Challenges of COVID-19

On 19 March 2020, the Secretary-General of the United Nations called for an urgent and coordinated response from the international community to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Five days later, the Remittance Community Task Force (RCTF) was launched by Global Forum on Remittances, Investment and Development (GFRID) 2020 co-organizers, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD),…

Fintech Toolkit: Smart Regulatory and Market Approaches to Financial Technology Innovation

This toolkit presents novel regulatory and market approaches policymakers, regulators, and development professionals can adopt to enable safe Fintech innovation.

The Long-Term Effectiveness of Financial Education Classroom Workshops in Rural Areas the Case of Armenia

Financial literacy is becoming more important, prompting public authorities, international organizations and the private sector to implement a variety of financial education programs. This case study features Armenia’s experience with classroom-based financial education workshops and the Central Bank of Armenia’s (CBA) efforts to measure the effectiveness of these workshops on financial inclusion and financial behavior.

Study Highlights How Policymakers Use Gender-Disaggregated Data to Design Effective Women’s Financial Inclusion Policies

There is a 7% gender gap globally in account ownership between men and women, 9% account in developing economies, according to the 2017 Global Findex (World Bank Group). Collecting gender-disaggregated data on access and usage of financial services provides vital information to reduce this divide, as well as fosters opportunity for economic growth and income…

Regulating Financial Services in an Era of Technological Disruption

Financial regulators are challenged to respond to the innovation opportunities presented by financial technology (fintech). Current rules are not necessarily sufficient or effective to adequately regulate new business models and new products relating to innovations such as crypto assets or digital financial services. Regulators that fail to respond in a timely manner may drive innovation…

The Global Impact of COVID-19 on Fintech Adoption

This paper draws on mobile application data from 74 countries to document the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the adoption of digital finance and fintech. It estimates that the spread of COVID-19 and related government lockdowns have led to between a 24-32% increase in the relative rate of daily downloads of finance mobile applications…

Microinsurance Case Brief: Mozambique

Mozambique faces high levels of financial exclusion, particularly among the two thirds of the population living in rural areas. Access to insurance is low and awareness and knowledge is low. NBC Mozambique was founded in 2014 and is currently the only licensed microinsurer in Mozambique. This Case Brief showcases their approaches to securing partnerships to…

MTN MoMo Pay Merchant Payments: Expanding Women’s Mobile Money Use in Ghana

Access to financial services can be a critical driver of economic growth and opportunity. In Ghana, mobile money has opened access to financial services for millions of people for the first time, strengthening the payment ecosystem and deepening financial inclusion. Despite its capacity to widen access to financial services, mobile money has not proven to…

Agricultural Insurance for Smallholder Farmers: Digital Innovations for Scale

Globally, less than 20 per cent of smallholder farmers have insurance. Low awareness of insurance products and the high cost of premiums have restricted farmer uptake of indemnity-based insurance services. Insurance providers have largely overlooked smallholders due to the cost of acquiring and serving rural customers. Index insurance offers ways of overcoming some of the…

Clients Deserve to Know: Using Radio to Educate and Empower Consumers in Africa

Everyone has a role to play to improve financial consumer protection, including clients. This report explores lessons learned from three CFI initiatives in Ghana, Benin, and Uganda to raise consumer awareness of their rights and responsibilities when accessing financial services.

Ghana’s Digital Financial Services Policy

Ghana became the first country to launch a digital financial services (DFS) policy. While the policy has been years in the making, the government hopes the policy will support various measures it is taking to leverage DFS in its COVID-19 response. Developed with technical support from CGAP and funding from the Swiss State Secretariat for…

Mozambique Annual Fintech Report 2019

This Fintech Report is the first of its kind to be written in Mozambique in a collaboration between FSDMoç and the Mozambican Fintech Association. Fintechs are companies, in most cases startups, that develop innovative technologies in the financial sector, creating disruptive services for the final consumer. In an industry strongly linked to systems, processes, paradigms and…

COVID-19 Changing the Landscape for Migrants and Remittances

The pandemic’s effect on the flow of global remittances sent by migrants back home to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) is projected to be one of sharp decline – a fall by about one fifth this year. The estimated 20 per cent slump represents US$ 109 billion in 2020. The hardship of COVID-19 felt by migrants…

Identity at the Margins: A Journey Continued

This narrative is a composite of experiences shared with the Caribou Digital research team, including direct quotes, presented in three short vignettes to highlight critical elements of how refugees engage with the identification systems of UNHCR and other humanitarian organisations.

VSLA and CARE Adaptations to COVID-19 and Past Crises

This brief from Care International includes examples of mitigating measures being put in place by VSLA members and CARE to lessen the impact of the pandemic on VSLA groups and their members. The brief also shares experiences of how VSLAs have adapted and delivered support through past epidemics and crises.

Golbal Dialogue on Regulatory Approaches for Inclusive FinTech

Financial policymakers and regulators in emerging and developing countries are mindful of the potential that FinTech holds for financial inclusion. While there is an increasing global convergence on the debate about and  implementation of regulatory and supervisory responses to these business model innovations, knowledge on how to deal with the risks of fast-moving technologies remains…

Opportunities for Improving Digital Identification in Social Cash Transfer Programmes through Mobile: Insights from Kenya and Malawi

Through qualitative and quantitative research with more than 540 people across the two countries – including experts from the mobile industry, international development community, and private sector – GSMA identified and explored a range of insights and opportunity areas for mobile.

Designing a Credit Facility for Women Entrepreneurs

In October 2012, the Government of Ethiopia launched the Women Entrepreneurship Development Project (WEDP), with the aim of increasing the earnings and employment of growth-oriented micro and small enterprises (MSEs) owned or partly-owned by women entrepreneurs in Ethiopia. In doing so, it created the first ever women entrepreneur focused line of credit in Africa, and…

Case study: The Future of Government-to-Person (G2P) Payments: Innovating for Customer Choice in Kenya

In 2018, Kenya’s Ministry of Labour and Social Protection launched the newest phase of its social safety net programme Inua Jamii with an audacious goal: provide all beneficiaries with a full bank account and offer them a choice among four financial services providers. As of December 2019, the Inua Jamii programme had reached 1.2 million…

How to Apply Machine Learning to Business Problems

This article, breaks down categories of business problems that are commonly handled by ML, and provides actionable advice to begin a ML initiative with the right approach and perspective.

G2P: Fiji’s Electronic Welfare Transfer System

Digitizing social welfare payments can be a win-win for all stakeholders involved when done right; the recipients of welfare receive their payments in a more convenient and cost-effective way, the government can streamline services to make them more efficient and reduce illegitimate payment, and the service provider gains more customers. It was this thinking that…

Partnering During Crisis

he ubiquity and scale of mobile networks has made mobile an attractive delivery channel for many types of humanitarian assistance, and recent evidence shows that humanitarian stakeholders and the private sector are recognising the potential to offer essential products and services in an emerging digital humanitarian ecosystem. However, there is little available evidence of the…

Digitizing Payments in the Time of COVID19 and Beyond

UNCDF organized this webinar to discuss how fast-tracking digital payments at a time of crisis can be crucial in delivering aid and in post-crisis recovery. Three speakers from the UNCDF Inclusive Digital Economies team, Ali Akram, Sabine Mensah and Jaspreet Singh, were invited to share their experience and expertise. The objective of the webinar was to…

Mobile Money Recommendations to Central Banks in Response to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about unprecedented challenges for the global economy. It has affected global health systems, affected peoples’ livelihoods and will, invariably, leave long lasting economic effects. Many countries have adopted partial or total ‘lock downs’, restricting movement in a bid to “flatten the curve” and to limit the spread of the virus.…

CICO Agents: The Under-Valued “First Responders”

Microsave’s ongoing research uncovered a set of unique challenges that cash-in/cash-out (CICO) agents currently face in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. This report looks at the experience and behaviors of CICO agents across eight countries and explores ways to support them through favorable policies, even as the disease rages on around the world.

Gender and Financial Misconduct: A Field Experiment on Mobile Money

The findings of this study on SSRN raise important issues at the intersection of economics and culture, and indicate that preexisting social distance (particularly unequal gender empowerment and gendered beliefs) can incentivize undesirable market outcomes and may be an important source of local financial market frictions.

The GSMA AgriTech Toolkit for the Digitisation of Agricultural Value Chains

The Toolkit for the Digitisation of Agricultural Value Chains is a collection of resources that illustrate how digital technologies can address pain points for farmers and value chain actors, such as agribusinesses and cooperatives, in the agricultural last mile. These resources support the use of digital technologies for digital procurement, by enabling the transition from…

Innovative Financial Products and Services for Women in Asia and the Pacific

This paper from Asian Development Bank examines digital financial services and products—powered by financial technology—as well as low technology solutions that can boost digital financial inclusion for women in remote and rural areas. New and innovative digital approaches that facilitate access to finance can effectively support the socioeconomic empowerment of women in Asia and the…

Achieving Business Impact with Data

There has never been a better time to achieve impact with data. More and more data is available, computing power is ever increasing, and mathematical techniques and the so-called data science are getting more and more advanced. What’s more, “digital” and “data” have become the talk of the town. Yet while talking about data as…

Testing “Lenga” a New Financial Education Kit in Tanzania

For the past three years in Tanzania, UNCDF and its partners have been developing and delivering financial education through a wide range of mechanisms, such as SMS (Arifu), tablet-based apps (Jijenge), videos (Noa Ubongo, Shamba Shape-Up), campaigns (Saving is Love), in-person trainings, and using savings groups as inclusive and supportive platforms for learning. This year, UNCDF…

Savings at the Frontier – Getting closer

Savings at the Frontier (SatF) was set up in 2015 to promote formal financial service provision to savings groups and savings collectors (informal savings mechanisms (ISMs). It has partnered with nine financial service providers (FSPs) in Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia to explore viable business models for reaching “the financial access frontier.” This focus note describes…

Payment Aspects of Financial Inclusion in the Fintech Era

Technological innovation has made major inroads into financial services, especially payments. The pace of innovation has substantially increased in the past five years, leading to the “era of fintech”. Fintech presents both opportunities and challenges for financial access and inclusion. It can support improved access to safe transaction accounts and encourage their frequent use. However,…

Access to Mobile Services and Proof of Identity

The ability to prove one’s identity is essential to securing both rights and access to a number of life-enhancing services including healthcare, voting, education, financial services, employment and social protections. As we continue advancing in the digital age, identification becomes ever more critical to gaining access to mobile connectivity and a range of mobile services…

Citizens and States: How Can Digital ID and Payments Improve State Capacity and Effectiveness?

In Bangladesh, a mother can now receive her child’s education scholarship through her mobile phone account instead of having to stand in long lines at the school on a prearranged day for a cash handout. Not only does this save her time and effort and provide accurate and documented payment, it also relieves school officials…

Blockchain Interoperability Considerations and Approach

The emergence of blockchain technology holds great promise for supply chain organizations. However, concerns around blockchain interoperability can serve as an obstacle to deployment. The World Economic Forum (Forum) and Deloitte examined the challenges and potential solutions for interoperability in the context of supply chain, global trade and the fourth industrial revolution. Read the report…

UNHCR Cash Assistance and COVID-19: Emerging Field Practices

This document from UNHCR is a snapshot of the many innovative field practices emerging in light of COVID-19. UNHCR preparedness and response to COVID-19 is comprehensive including cash assistance as a quick and efficient means of getting assistance to people fast, empowering families to deal with the crisis and meet their basic needs, mitigating some…

CVA in COVID-19 Contexts: Guidance from the CaLP network

This is a summary of the key points from rsources being shared on CVA and COVID-19. It is a living document and we  be updated as new resources are added. It is intended to help organisations understand and prepare for likely impacts of COVID-19 on their work, consider whether CVA is right for the contexts…

Don’t Jump Straight to Digital: What Ebola Taught Us About Trying to Force New Systems in Crisis

In this podcast from Care International, Holly Radice talks about how people have limited bandwidth to adopt new things in crisis, and how cash transfers in Ebola failed at digital solutions because of unrealistic expectations. Her recommendations: do everything you can to adapt and expand existing systems to push out cash safely, examine your context very carefully and…

Making Digital Finance Work for Women in the MENA Region: Eight Lessons from the Field

This brief from Arab Women’s Enterprise Fund highlights two regional case studies: the female agents, DFS Learning Program and other learnings from the MENA region that had an impact on how digital financial services can be used to accelerate women’s economic empowerment . The brief on making digital finance work for women in the MENA…

Mobile Money Regulatory Index

The Mobile Money Regulatory Index measures regulatory enablers of mobile money adoption. It has been constructed according to the steps set out in the guidelines developed by the OECD and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC). This methodology document presents the theoretical framework that underpins the Index; the process for selecting the indicators, along…

Humanitarian Cash Transfers and Financial Inclusion

Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan receive more than one quarter of their humanitarian assistance in the form of cash and vouchers. Leveraging this aid delivery to connect refugees to the formal financial system requires the host country to have widespread digital financial ecosystem in place and coordination among governments, aid agencies, and financial service…

Measuring Financial Health: What Policymakers Need to Know

Citizens, politicians and policymakers know that effectively managing one’s financial resources – being financially healthy – is central to the success of both individuals and broad populations. If financial health is to be a useful construct, it is important to be clear about what it means, how it is measured, and how it can be…

The Mobile Gender Gap Report 2020

This third edition of The Mobile Gender Gap Report will consider how women’s mobile access and use are changing, and how efforts to reach women with technology should evolve alongside. This report provides: Updated figures on gender gaps in mobile ownership and mobile internet use in LMICs and how these are changing For the first…

The Contribution of FinTechs for MSME Development: What can Mozambique Learn from FinTechs in South Africa and Kenya?

This study, the Contribution of Fintechs for MSME Finance was produced by Helder Buvana as part of his journey to become a Certified Digital Finance Practitioner. It looks at how innovation, mainly technological innovation, is contributing to change the traditional way financial services are delivered to customers and how these new waves can reduce the…

The GSMA Inclusive Tech Lab for Mobile Money Interoperability

The GSMA Inclusive Tech Lab has released its Interoperability Test Platform, the first joint test environment including two key technologies, the GSMA Mobile Money API and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Mojaloop. With this test platform, the GSMA provides the industry with an open-source and secure environment, enabling ecosystem participants to test their systems…

State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money 2019

2019 marked a major milestone for the mobile money industry: the number of registered mobile money accounts surpassed one billion. Reaching the one billion mark is a tremendous achievement for an industry that is just over a decade old. The mobile money industry of today has a host of seasoned providers with a broad set…

Digitizing Value Chain Payments: A digital solution from Ghana

In Ghana, Tanager has been complementing the development of agribusiness markets by linking agribusinesses with ecosystems for cashless banking as a bridge between rural communities and brick-and-mortar banking services. In order to roll out mobile payment platforms across supply chains, and provide last-mile financial services to rural farmers, Tanager partners with agribusinesses, producers, and mobile…

Building a Resilient Industry: How Mobile Network Operators Prepare for and Respond to Natural Disasters

Mobile networks and connectivity have become increasingly necessary in times of crisis. They allow us to connect with loved ones, whether they are down the street or on the other side of the world. They fill not only a very human need to connect during times of hardship, but they also allow the coordination of…

Insur;Hack Report

The Insur;Hack (focusing specifically on insurtech) was a collaborative effort designed to provide competing teams with sector-specific training and mentorship, as well as the chance to win financial and physical resources that enable them to ideate, prototype and build digital products that can help to disrupt the insurance industry. The event sought to pioneer innovation in…

A Guide for Mobile Money Agents and Digital Literacy Change Agents

This Digital Literacy Training Guide is a contextually appropriate, engaging curriculum designed to address the knowledge, attitudinal and skills barriers that prevent refugees-especially women-from accessing and using financial services. The purpose of this guide from GSMA is to prepare mobile money agents and digital literacy change agents to educate people in their communities about the…

Guidance on Digital ID

Digital ID systems are evolving rapidly.  To determine whether a digital ID is suitable, governments, financial institutions and other stakeholders should: Understand the assurance levels of the digital ID system’s technology, architecture and governance Given its assurance levels, determine whether it is appropriately reliable, independent in light of potential risks that it is used to…

Case Study: Strengthening Agricultural Supply Chains Through The Delivery of Financial Services

This case study by the Fund for Rural Prosperity looks at the lessons learned from Ibero Uganda’s approach to financially including coffee farming families.

API Deployments in Inclusive Finance

APIs are often viewed as potential solutions for traditional financial institutions, particularly small and midsize banks, to partner with upstart financial technology companies (fintechs) to offer innovate products, especially to low-income customers. In practice, however, due to the maturity of the fintech market, fear of losing competitive advantage, and a variety of strategic errors in planning…

Digital Financial Services Supervision in Bangladesh

In this report, DFS innovations can rapidly expand financial access and inclusion, but also pose risks related to fraud, market abuses, and financial stability. Regulatory frameworks thus need to strike a balance between fostering innovation, protecting consumers, and addressing the potential for unintended consequences of technological disruption. They must also ensure the market is a…

The Mobile Money Regulatory Index

In September 2018 GSMA launched the Mobile Money Regulatory Index, an interactive tool that measures the effectiveness of mobile money regulatory frameworks.

Proportionate Regulation in Uganda: A Gateway for Refugees Accessing Mobile Services in Their Own Name

The world’s refugee population is growing. Although mobile connectivity is not an antidote to the challenges refugees face, evidence shows that access to connectivity improves the lives of refugees in a variety of ways. Proof of identity is often required for individuals to activate mobile-enabled services in their own name, but many refugees do not have…

Digital Banks: How can they deepen financial inclusion?

New technologies and business models are upending long-established markets across virtually every major sector, including the financial services sector. Traditional retail banks are joined by a growing number of digital partners and other competitors. One example are digital banks – firms that adopt new technologies to offer more effective banking services. This slide deck from…

Fintech, Regtech and the Role of Compliance Report 2020

The 4th Thomson Reuters Regulatory Intelligence report has been published on fintech, regtech and the role of compliance in 2020. It explores the adoption and use of technology and its implications for compliance. The report also highlights the shifting role of the regulator and concerns about best or better practice approaches to tackle the rise…

Understanding Women’s Rural Transition and Service Needs – Opportunities for Financial Service Providers

In this webinar recording FinEquity’s Social Norms lead , Nisha Singh facilitated a conversation with the Anne Maftei and Clara Colina from the Rural and Agricultural Finance Learning Lab on the recently published Pathways to Prosperity report and the associated gender deep dive. The authors highlighted the novel approach to customer segmentation proposed in the report. Based…

Is There a Case for For-Purpose Remittances?

This report from Cenfri reveals the findings from their qualitative and quantitative research with remittance senders who live in the United Kingdom and send remittances to either Cameroon, Kenya, Nigeria or Uganda. Remittances act as key sources of financial support for households: They reduce the likelihood of impoverishment, contribute to improved health and education, and provide…

Leveraging Mobile to Accelerate Digital Identity Ecosystems: Considerations for Policymakers in Africa

The white paper written by Yiannis Theodorou, Acting Head of Digital Identity at GSMA, discusses how mobile could be leveraged to accelerate digital identity ecosystems in Africa.

Digital Credit Scoring for Farmers: Opportunities for Agritech Companies in Myanmar

Despite rapid urbanisation in recent years, agriculture dominates Myanmar’s rural economy. Sectoral challenges, like farmers’ limited access to credit and associated low levels of financial inclusion, affect farmer livelihoods and limit opportunities for growth. Recently, innovative agritech companies have been testing the use of digital technologies to mitigate some of these challenges. This report from…

Seeking Solutions: New Roles for Technology in Cash and Voucher Programs

More people have been forced to flee their homes than at the height of World War II. The scale of these humanitarian crises are challenging, and sometimes outpacing, the capacity of institutions created to respond to them. Yet, the approaches available to reach populations in need have also advanced. In particular, the trend towards distributing…

Fintech Benchmarks Proof-of-Concept Report

Investment capital is flowing into fintech startups, yet it is still challenging to get capital to many fintechs addressing last-mile challenges. Evidence suggests this is driven in large part by a lack of information. Using data collected to test an initial set of Data Standards for Inclusive Fintech, this report from MIX presents insights into…

Digital Finance APIs Come with Risks – Here’s One Way to Manage Them

Often an open API initiative starts when a digital financial services (DFS) provider sees the potential for scaling the exposure of services, such as payments, to partners and third parties. However, internal resistance can squelch the initiative, as management grapples with potential security, data privacy and brand reputation risks. While these concerns are valid, if…

Space for Finance in Developing Countries

This research was conducted by Caribou Space for the International Partnership Programme, a five-year, £30 million per year initiative run by the UK Space Agency. This report outlines why and how the space industry has a role to play in addressing challenges within the finance sector in developing countries. It is part of a series…

Passwordless Authentication: The Next Breakthrough in Secure Digital Transformation

Authentication is the cornerstone of secure digital transformation for platform businesses, and beyond that, a pillar of the Fourth Industrial Revolution: from internet of things (IoT) devices that need authentication for machine-to-machine communication, to artificial intelligence (AI) that will be used both to secure and bypass authentication systems, and even blockchain, for which trustworthy authentication…

The Identities Research Project

The Identities research project explores user experiences of identity technology, brought to you by Caribou Digital, Omidyar Network and the International Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore (IIITB). The need for user-centered research in “digital identity” arose out of concerns around top-down identity systems and lack of insights on how these are being understood and used,…

Digital Identity and Social Cash Transfers

The efficient implementation of social protection systems – and particularly social cash transfers – requires new digital tools that facilitate the efficient selection and enrollment of beneficiaries and the targeted and transparent delivery of funds. Effective methods of verifying beneficiary identities are essential to these processes; however, several issues are likely to hinder this. This…

Principles on Identification for Sustainable Development

In 2017, a group of development partners, international organizations, government agencies, and NGOs actively working to design and support identification (ID) systems came together organically to develop a set of shared principles essential for maximizing the benefits of identification for development while mitigating the risks. These Principles on Identification for Sustainable Development have now been endorsed by…

Global Risks Report 2020

The 15th edition of the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report is published as critical risks are manifesting. The global economy is facing an increased risk of stagnation, climate change is striking harder and more rapidly than expected, and fragmented cyberspace threatens the full potential of next-generation technologies — all while citizens worldwide protest political and economic…

The Use of Agents by Digital Financial Services Providers

Agents play a crucial role in lowering the cost of delivery to reach the unbanked and underbanked population. An increasing number of countries, especially emerging markets and developing economies, allow a diverse array of banks and nonbank institutions to distribute digital financial services through agents. This Technical Note focuses on regulating agent models within an enabling framework…

G20 Action Plan on SME Financing: Self-Assessment Consolidated Progress Report 2019

This report represents the comparison of the 2019 self-reported responses against those provided by the G20 countries in 2017.

Financially Underserved Kenyans and Their Market Potential: A segmentation Study

This segmentation study identifies Kenyans whose financial needs are not adequately met by the solutions available in the financial market, as well as the untapped opportunities they offer to financial service providers. The study was conducted by FSD Kenya and CGAP using data from FinAccess 2019. Over the past two decades, Kenya has made significant…

Unlocking Credit For Women-Owned Enterprises in Southeast Asia through Value Chain Digitization

This report by Women’s World Banking explores the answers to three key questions: Which value chains in Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam represent priority opportunities to develop increased credit offerings for women-owned MSMEs (micro-, small- & medium-sized enterprises) through value chain digitization? What forms of value chain digitization would be best suited to women-owned…

Making Data Work for the Poor

With the rise of digital technologies, the use of personal data by private companies is growing rapidly. But how do we know they will use this data responsibly and in consumers’ best interests? In emerging and developing markets, the question is particularly acute because the predominant model rests upon obtaining consumer consent to use their…

Impending Arrival – a Sequel to the Survey on Central Bank Digital Currency

Research and experimentation on central bank digital currencies continue to fuel discussion and debate. This BIS paper updates an earlier survey that asked central banks how their plans in this area are developing. The latest responses show emerging market economies reporting stronger motivations and a higher likelihood that they will issue digital currencies, with central…

Changing Mindsets to Empower Women

This blog post and video interview on Next Billion features Roshaneh Zafar discusing how Kashf Foundation handles the challenges of serving women customers in Pakistan, why its services go far beyond microcredit, and where the development sector’s investments in women are still falling short.

Customer-Centric Guide

The CGAP Customer-Centric Guide is a collection of hands-on toolkits and experiments that help with the design and delivery of effective financial services for low-income customers.

The Real Story of Women’s Financial Inclusion in India

This research report from Microsave Consulting explores the real problems restricting women’s access to, and usage of, formal financial services in India, and recommends the use of introducing different categories of women so that use, uptake and design of products can be improved.    

Digital Identity Tracker

The Digital ID Tracker®, produced in collaboration with PYMNTS.com and Jumio, is a monthly resource for updates on trends and changes in the digital ID industry.    

Digitising Payments in Agricultural Value Chains: The Revenue Opportunity to 2025

This report from the GSMA explores the potential revenue opportunity of digitising agricultural payments for mobile money providers. Two types of payment are ripe for digitisation: B2B payments; procurement payments from agribusinesses to smallholder farmers in formal value chains and G2P payments; subsidies paid out by governments to smallholder farmers. These opportunities offer mobile money…