Photo courtesy of The MasterCard Foundation © 2016


Around 2.5 billion of the world’s population remain unbanked, and 63% of this market has access to mobile phones. The development of digital payments, transfers and banking through networks of agents and mobile phones or cards can make access to financial services more convenient, secure and cost effective. Moreover, it can introduce new stakeholders to the value chain such as; mobile network operators and payment service providers; facilitate the extension of the current offering to a broader audience and increase competition amongst the existing players by substantially reducing the costs for MFIs and downscaling banks. These changes can be efficiently supported and accelerated by the proper intervention of international development agencies at macro (policy, regulation and supervision), meso (information and coordination among stakeholders) and micro (innovative and game-changer initiatives) levels.


The marketplace for new delivery channels and technology is still in its infancy which means that there are a number of issues that development agencies need to support or where they can act as a catalyst. Funder should be ready to:

  • focus on some countries of major priority with a long-term commitment
  • identify the right level of intervention depending on the country context and own capacities, coordinate with other international development agencies to cover the different levels (macro, meso and/micro) within an adapted impact pathway
  • engage with the private sector with an intense sense of competition, efficiency and speed
  • dedicate significant resources (to internal knowledge), and be creative in how to bring adapted resources: relationships, knowledge, and funding
  • put in place the right metrics to monitor performance and improve results

Track record

World Bank: Southern Africa
IFC Egypt & Tunisia
IFC (Wizzit): Southern Africa
GIZ Financial Literacy Handbook
Palestinian Monetary Authority, Association of Banks in Palestine, USAID: Palestine

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  • Going digital, or stick to cash by PHB Consultant Páll Kvaran
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