What is Digital Public Infrastructure?

When COVID-19 accelerated digital transformation globally, it highlighted the difference between strong and weak digital infrastructure. Countries have a narrow window to ensure they have digital networks that safely and efficiently deliver economic opportunities and social services to all residents. This is digital public infrastructure.

DPI is like roads

Digital public infrastructure, or DPI, is similar to roads, which form a physical network essential for people to connect with each other and access a huge range of goods and services.

These goods and services are vital in creating economic opportunity across many sectors-including finance, health, and agriculture.


But what happens when people don’t have access to these goods and services?

It results in limited inclusion, particularly affecting women and poor people.

It restricts choice in the range of goods and services available and how to access them.

It poses cybersecurity and regulatory safety concerns.

Addressing these challenges is crucial to promote equal opportunities, diverse access to goods and services, and a safer digital environment for all.

When countries implement DPI...

Similarly, the elements of DPI—digital ID, payments, and data exchange—form a cohesive digital network that enables countries to safely and efficiently open economic opportunities and deliver social services to its residents.

People have access to the goods and services they need to live healthy, productive lives, making the country stronger and more resilient.

They save time and money, while having the freedom to make choices to meet the unique needs of themselves and their families.

Read: Explainers and examples

Digital IDs are an effective tool against poverty. A global solution is making them available to millions.

By Kanwaljit Singh, Ph.D. Senior Program Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Poonam poses for a photograph with her India Post Payments Bank card that helps her access digital banking in Mumbai, India.

Why digital public infrastructure matters

By Thao Hong Program Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Ways we’re working to expand DPI

At this critical time, the global financing community and countries must come together to invest in DPI and build inclusive, resilient economies. We’re leading the charge by funding programs that create and grow the critical digital financial infrastructure needed to serve everyone, especially the poor.
Inclusive Financial Systems
Our goal is to expand access to digital financial services so the poorest people around the globe can build security and prosperity for their communities.
Cell phones connect an increasing number of Kenyans with digitally-based financial tools and services.

DPI initiatives we support

We partner with technical assistance programs, such as AfricaNenda and the World Bank’s ID4D initiative, so countries can underpin their DPI with appropriate regulations and safeguards.
The World Bank: Identification for Development
The World Bank’s ID4D Initiative is a global leading organization advocating for ID systems to be based on a robust set of principles, including privacy by design, security, user control, safeguarding data privacy, and protecting user rights through a comprehensive legal and regulatory framework.
AfricaNenda: Accelerating inclusive payment systems
AfricaNenda provides technical support to expand the broader pipeline of fundable, instant, and inclusive payment system projects with the aim to achieve universal financial inclusion on the continent by 2030.
Mojaloop Foundation

Mojaloop open source software lowers the cost to build, maintain, and modify inclusive instant payment systems (IIPS) that bring affordable, connected digital financial services to anyone with access to a mobile phone.


The Modular Open Source Identity Platform (MOSIP) is a robust, scalable, and inclusive platform on which national foundational IDs are built and configured in an efficient and cost effective way.


Co-Develop accelerates the adoption of digital public infrastructure in a way that is inclusive, safe, and equitable.

Digital Public Goods Alliance

The Digital Public Goods Alliance aims to unlock the potential of open-source technologies for a more equitable world.

Digital Impact Alliance

The Digital Impact Alliance aims to connect people with evidence to build the digital tools that work for society.

Read more

Sweety, an assistant quality checker at a garment factory, learned how to use an ATM and track income and expenses with HERproject.

Global Findex 2021: How digital wages empower Bangladeshi women

The Bangladeshi government’s quick action to pay garment workers digitally during the pandemic led to enormous dividends for women workers—and demonstrated the power of financial inclusion to improve women’s lives.
By Snigdha Ali Program Officer, Inclusive Financial Systems, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Woman looking at mobile phone

Banking on the future of women

Poverty is not a single fact or condition, but rather a collection of them: a lack of financial assets, a lack of access to property, and a lack of voice in one's community.
By Sarah Hendriks Director, Programme, Policy and Intergovernmental Division, UN Women
Where Digital Payments, Even for a 10-Cent Chai, Are Colossal in Scale (The New York Times)

Where Digital Payments, Even for a 10-Cent Chai, Are Colossal in Scale

India’s homegrown instant payment system has remade commerce and pulled millions into the formal economy.
(The New York Times)
Harvard Business Review: The Case for Investing in Digital Public Infrastructure

The Case for Investing in Digital Public Infrastructure

In India, investment in digital public infrastructure (DPI) has transformed how the country does business and how its citizens interact with their government.
(Harvard Business Review)