IFC and Mastercard Foundation extend financial inclusion for millions in Africa

mastercard communications africaIFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has joined forces with the Mastercard Foundation to present a new report detailing the transformation underway in financial inclusion in sub-Saharan Africa

The findings are based on lessons learned from joint projects that have led to access to new digital financial services for more than seven million users on the continent over the past six years.

The report titled 'Digital Access: The Future of Financial Inclusion' highlights the success of digital financial services in sub-Saharan Africa and outlines the challenges still to be tackled to reach universal financial access. It captures the experience and knowledge gained by IFC and the Mastercard Foundation in supporting the growth of digital finance in Africa under the joint Partnership for Financial Inclusion since 2012.

Working together with 14 microfinance institutions, banks, mobile network operators, and payments service providers across the continent, the joint initiative has resulted in 7.2mn new digital financial services users (a 250 per cent increase from the baseline), 45,000 new banking agents, and US$300mn in monthly transactions.

"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,” noted IFC’s chief executive officer Philippe Le Houerou and Mastercard Foundation president and chief executive officer Reeta Roy in a joint foreword to the new report.

Recently released data from the World Bank Findex survey revealed financial inclusion in sub-Saharan Africa has experienced a huge rise over the past decade, from 23 per cent in 2011 to 43 per cent in 2017. Sub-saharan Africa is the only region where the share of adults with a mobile money account is more than 10 per cent.

“The Partnership for Financial Inclusion has been an important actor in helping to drive financial inclusion in Africa,” said Ruth Dueck-Mbeba, senior programme manager at the Mastercard Foundation. "We’re proud of the work that our partner, IFC, has led over the past six years. It has enabled millions of people to benefit from access to financial services. More than that, the knowledge that we’ve gained will lead to millions more people improving their lives and their communities by being able to join the formal financial services sector.

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