Advancing digital financial inclusion for all
what’s the challenge?
Almost 2 billion people, the majority of them women, live outside the formal financial system—that is, without access to products and services like savings, credit, insurance, and the ability to make and receive digital payments. This makes it extremely difficult for poor people—especially women—to save for the future, provide for their family’s health and children’s education, or invest in a business. Life without access to formal financial services means economic exclusion; it’s expensive, time-consuming, and unsafe.
what’s the opportunity?
Digital financial inclusion benefits everyone in the economy. Moving away from a cash-based system and employing digital services enables: Cost savings through increased efficiency and speed; transparency and security by increasing accountability and tracking; and women’s economic empowerment, by giving women more control over their financial lives. The widespread adoption and use of digital finance could increase the GDPs of all emerging economies by 6 percent, or a total of $3.7 trillion, by 2025. This additional GDP could create up to 95 million new jobs across all sectors of the economy.
- Grow the number of governments championing greater financial inclusion through the Maya Declaration, an initiative by financial sector policymakers and regulators to unlock the economic and social potential of the 2 billion currently unbanked.
- Expand opportunities for digital payments. The United Nations-based Better Than Cash Alliance brought together governments, private sector companies and international organizations to build economies where everyone can make and receive payments digitally. It had at launch over 60 members from around the world, each demonstrating leadership through their commitment to move away from cash in a responsible way.
- Encourage continued innovation by companies who create the digital tools and services needed to advance financial inclusion.
Progress Achieved To Date:
Expanded the global Better Than Cash Alliance to 75 members, a 25% increase since 2017.
- COVID-19 and women: Alliance members leading emergency response & G20 policy options
- Bangladesh: Effective public and private collaboration
- Senegal: Government leadership at the highest level
- Peer learning, hosted by India and Kenya
Women are hardest hit by COVID-19’s economic fallout. A new G20 report, launched by the Alliance and partners, outlines 10 policies for reaching 1 billion financially excluded women, as Alliance members lead on a number of fronts to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. In Colombia a new digital transfer program has reached 3 million vulnerable households, 60% of them headed by women and 1 million previously unbanked. In Jordan, 200,000 households, including refugees, received financial assistance through e-wallets, with Sudan taking forward key lessons as part of its commitment to providing digital basic income for over 30 million citizens.
Around 60% of Bangladesh’s 4 million garment workers are women. In Bangladesh, at the Digital Wages Summit—convened by the Alliance and partners in Dhaka in 2019— four leading brands and new Alliance members— Gap Inc., H&M, Marks & Spencer and Inditex (Zara)— endorsed a strong call to action to move away from cash. H&M announced digital payment systems for all its supplier factories in Bangladesh by 2020. The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) committed to digitizing 90% of payments made to garment workers in the country by 2021. The Ready-Made Garment (RMG) sector opened 2.5 million new accounts after the government’s COVID-19 RMG Wage Relief Fund mandated that all salaries be paid digitally.
Senegal's Prime Minister issued a decree creating a national coordination body to drive digital payments, following the 2018 Alliance Country Diagnostic. In 2019, the government launched SunuCMU, a digital payments platform, to help expand health insurance coverage to 75% of the population by 2021. It is expected to save the government 6 billion CFA Francs (US$ 10 million) every year. This is all the more important in times of COVID-19 response.
The Government of India as an Alliance leader hosted governments from West Africa to learn about its digital infrastructure in early 2020. The Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT) Mission of the Government of India partnered with the Alliance to organize two inter-state workshops on digitizing social protection payments. Representatives from 22 out of 36 states and union territories participated in the exchanges that focused on farm and food subsidies. The Government of Kenya also hosted nine members of the Alliance in 2019 to share good practices on digitizing water utility payments.
Better Than Cash Alliance members added since launch
- Government of Uganda
- Government of Cote D’ivoire
- Government of The Republic of Equatorial Guinea
- Government of The Republic of Sudan
- Gap Inc.
- Inditex (Zara)
- Marks and Spencer
- World Cocoa Foundation
- International Labor Organization (Ilo)
- Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad)
What you can do
SUPPORT POLICY REFORM
To support proactive policy reform and learn more about the Maya Declaration, visit www.afi-global.org .
SHIFT TO DIGITAL
To learn about how your organization can change lives through shifting to responsible digital payments, visit www.betterthancash.org
To find out more about the GSMA’s Mobile for Development work, in particular the Mobile Money and Connected Women programs, visit www.gsma.com/mobilefordevelopment