Opportunities and challenges for financial inclusion in the shift to digital

David Edelstein

Last week, prior to the Symposium for Financial Inclusion in Accra, we formally launched the Mastercard Foundation’s Partnership for Finance in a Digital Africa at a one day Learning Event at the Labadi Beach Hotel.  It was an exciting day for our team!  Here are some of the great resources that are now available:

  • Learning Advances in Digital Finance: This report puts a spotlight on specific advances in knowledge that will influence the future of digital finance.
  • Snapshots: Short papers that highlight “what we know” about critical questions in the digital finance space and identify implications for future research and investment.
  • Theory of Change: The foundation for the FiDA Partnership.

We also launched our twitter handle @FiDAPartnership and our LinkedIn Group – see our social media activity from the day on Storify.

The event itself was a great success. There were 70 people in the room from 39 organisations and 12 countries. We also had a great diversity in the room; including banks, fintechs, academics, consultants, mobile network operators, donors and investors.

Mark Wensley and Chris Locke opened the session, introducing the Partnership, talking about the role of finance in a digital Africa and the financial inclusion vision. The two key themes: “shift to digital” and “meaningful financial inclusion” were introduced by Olga Morawczynski and Jonathan Donner and discussed over the course of the day

Will Croft of Caribou Digital Data catalyzed debate in the room with his session on Ten Provocations for Digital Finance. He introduced the Measure tool and the data collected from a panel of 1,000 people in Kenya during September 2017. The Provocations and their sometimes surprising results will be revealed as blogs over the coming months, so stay tuned!

Following this, Marissa Dean, remotely from Cape Town, presented her research on business models in Kenya and Tanzania. A number of the 30 organisations interviewed as part of the research were in the room and leaders from Equity Bank, Tala and Apollo Agriculture participated in a panel discussion.  The panel discussed a range of topics, including the use of Satellite data and the challenges and benefits that this data presents. For more information on the research will be released in a blog series over the next few months.

Professor Bei from Remnin University then took the discussion to China and explained the Digital Financial Services landscape there. He talked about how the large population, well developed infrastructure, innovative spirit and unmet financial needs leads to China running ahead in the digital finance space.

Finally Yanina Selzer of BFA closed the interactive morning by getting everyone on their feet for a creative tensions session. She tested the room on their opinions of who will lead the shift to digital, what will drive digitization in African Markets, what will the shift to digital will mean to local fintechs and whether MNO’s and banks will become obsolete in the shift to digital. It was exciting to see the people move around and physically see what people thought. We will definitely continue to use this session approach in the future – thanks Yanina!

We reconvened in the afternoon for an Unconference session. There were 8 topics which all sparked interesting discussions. If you are interested in learning more, please sign up for updates or get in touch.