Mobile Drives Financial Inclusion In Africa, Growing 20% In Past Six Years

May 18, 2018 | Forbes

Driven by mobile, there have been $300-million in monthly transactions in Africa from 7.2-million new people using digital financial services and 45,000 new banking agents due to a financial inclusion project.

The Partnership for Financial Inclusion program, run by the IFC and the Mastercard Foundation, has been operating since 2012 and has been working with 14 microfinance institutions, banks, mobile network operators, and payments service providers across the continent.

In general, according to the recently published World Bank Findex survey, financial inclusion in Sub-Saharan Africa has "increased dramatically" from 23% in 2011 to 43% in 2017.

The 7.2-million new digital finance users are a 250% increase from the 2012 baseline, the organisations said in a statement. "Saharan Africa is the only region where the share of adults with a mobile money account exceeds 10 percent".

Their Digital Access: The Future of Financial Inclusion report highlights the "phenomenal success of digital financial services in Sub-Saharan Africa and outlines the challenges still to be tackled to reach universal financial access". IFC is a part of the World Bank Group.

"Financial inclusion is one of Africa's great success stories of this decade. Mobile money solutions and agent banking now offer affordable, instant, and reliable transactions, savings, credit, and even insurance opportunities in rural villages and urban neighborhoods where no bank had ever established a branch," wrote IFC's CEO Philippe Le Houerou and Mastercard Foundation President and CEO Reeta Roy in the report's foreword.

There is an emerging body of evidence on the impact that digital financial inclusion can have on inclusive economic growth and development. Smallholder cocoa farmers in Côte d'Ivoire who saved regularly were better able to feed their families than those who did not save, irrespective of the farmers' annual income, according to a study included in the report. Cultural prejudices meant these farmers felt "socially excluded" by traditional banks but they were more trusting of digital services. Read more on Forbes.

Source: Forbes