Digital Financial Inclusion in sub-Saharan Africa


Mobile and digital technologies have helped boost financial inclusion in sub-Saharan Africa significantly in recent years. The percentage of adults with an account rose from 24% in 2011 to 34% in 2014.2 Mobile money services provided by FinTechs and Telcos are increasingly filling the gaps left by traditional banks.3 Mobile money services do not require the same investment in branch infrastructure as traditional banks and agent banking serves low-population density areas at a significantly lower cost than traditional banks. Digital finance still has untapped potential in SSA, provided financial services are tailored to local context and end-user characteristics. The EIB roundtable on Digital Financial inclusion in SSA addressed how to engage the bottom of the pyramid, including female entrepreneurs and MSMEs. There is a need to strike the right balance between leveraging opportunities and managing risks. Issues of trust, financial capability, regulation, compliance and inter-operability loom large. The role that FinTechs and banks can play in inclusive finance crucially depends on the features of the market in which they operate. Reaching the bottom of the pyramid requires client-centred innovation and the design of products targeting minorities and vulnerable segments of society, including older and disabled people and recognising gender as an additional layer of inequality. Innovative uses of transactional and alternative data can cater digitally to entrepreneurs, and new forms of collaboration between banks, supply chains and FinTechs will continue to emerge.

Financial Infrastructure, Access to Finance, Mobile Banking
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