IFC, MasterCard study to boost financial inclusion

A subscriber uses M-Pesa services. file photo | nmg
A subscriber uses M-Pesa services. file photo | nmg 

International Finance Corporation (IFC) has unveiled a study to help financial firms in Africa understand consumer perceptions and attitudes towards digital services.

The World Bank Group’s private sector lending arm partnered with the MasterCard Foundation in the study aimed at growing financial inclusion in the continent.

Sub-Saharan Africa leads the world in use of digital financial services with more than 277 million subscribers, 100 million of whom are active users, the latest report by the Global System for Mobile Communication Association shows.

Kenya — the pioneer of the mobile money services — and Tanzania have nearly doubled the use of digital financial services since they were rolled out a decade ago.

The study, part of Sh3.85 billion ($37.4 million) Partnership for Financial Inclusion initiative by the IFC and the MasterCard Foundation, focused on Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal and Zambia.

The resultant report, ‘A Sense of Inclusion: An Ethnographic Study of the Perceptions and Attitudes to Digital Financial Services in Sub-Saharan Africa’, is based on a research conducted at the Africa Studies Center Leiden, University of Leiden (Netherlands).

“This research really gives a voice to the users of mobile money and agent banking in Africa,” IFC programme manager for the Partnership for Financial Inclusion Lesley Denyes said in a statement last Wednesday. “(It) gives us a vivid idea of what lies behind the success of digital financial services in the continent and what the current challenges are to further expand financial inclusion.”

The study established availability of financial mobile transactions has made it difficult for some users to dodge financial obligations from extended family members.

“Now, with the development of money transfers, whenever a family member asks for money, you need to make it clear — either you have the money or you don’t. You can no longer claim you can’t get it to them because if you say that, the person will answer that you should send it by Wari, Joni-Joni, among others,” a policeman in Senegal told the researchers.