Mobile technology is expanding access to financial services for more people in Africa, but it is used sporadically in many areas. There is an opportunity to address important financial needs — building savings, borrowing responsibly, and protecting assets — through existing digital services. Most financial service providers, however, often see little need or do not have the necessary expertise to develop new business models using mobile technology to meet the needs of low-income clients.
By working with financial technology companies, as well as with traditional financial service providers, the Foundation aims to expand digital financial services and complement informal financial practices, leveraging social networks and engaging clients in real time, while using data to tailor products and to extend the access to and use of financial services.
The Mastercard Foundation Partnership for Finance for a Digital Africa was launched in 2017. It works closely with leading organizations and companies across the digital finance space. The Partnership aggregates and synthesizes knowledge, conducts research to address key gaps, and identifies any implications for those working in the space. The goal is to inform decisions with facts to accelerate meaningful financial inclusion for people across Sub-Saharan Africa.
The Partnership for Finance for a Digital Africa works with 10 development and financial technology organizations receiving US$104 million in support from the Foundation for their work on digital financial inclusion. Among the projects that the Foundation supports are:
This is a six-year, almost US$25 million project to enable one million smallholder farmers in Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia to have access to affordable, accessible, demand-driven financial products and services. With them, they will be able to obtain higher productivity in farming and, consequently, higher incomes for farm families. One of the innovative digital products created for this program, DigiFarm, was recently given a 2018 Fast Company World Changing Ideas Award.
The Mastercard Foundation has supported the creation and development of this institute, designed to build the human capacity in digital financial services by equipping a new generation of financial technology professionals with the information, skills, and vision they need to deliver inclusive digital financial solutions.
This is a five-year, US$25 million project that is operating in six African nations to ensure that the benefits of digital financial services are not reserved only for middle-income countries or people. The program helps build inclusive digital financial sectors such that a wide range of services are provided responsibly, and at reasonable cost, by sustainable institutions in a well-regulated environment.