Financial inclusion has increased by 23 percent in the last decade, IFC reports

A report on the access to new digital financial services by Mastercard Foundation in partnership with International Finance Corporation (IFC) has revealed that for financial inclusion to expand financial services to the last mile, investments in merchant and agent networks, and innovation along agricultural value chains will be required.

The report documents the on-going inclusive financial transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa. It notes that there is an emerging body of evidence on the impact that digital financial inclusion can have on inclusive economic growth and development.

Over the past 10 years, financial inclusion has increased from 23 percent in 2011 to 43 percent in 2017 in Sub-Saharan Africa, a recently released data from the World Bank index survey shows. According to the data, Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region where the share of adults with a mobile money account exceeds 10 percent.

On digital access, the report notes that the future of financial inclusion 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.

Projecting on the future of financial inclusion in the region, Riadh Naouar, Head of IFC’s Financial Institutions Group Advisory in Sub-Saharan Africa, said, “We can see some interesting trends for the future. While East Africa has long been the star performer in terms of the evolution of digital financial services, West Africa is the new growth market. Not only in terms of reach, but also for innovation.”

“There is a need in the broader industry across the continent to shift to the next generation of digital products,” Naouar said. “A broader, more multi-faceted market is asking for more sophisticated and relevant products beyond person-to-person payments. There are evident opportunities to develop digital banking, savings and credit products, as well as the digitization of value chain financing and merchant payments.”