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Our Staff Writers and Editors offer insights on the latest news, events, interviews and other happenings from the development through enterprise and base of the pyramid universes
Friday, May 22, 2015 — South Asia

India's Street Dentists Filling Gap for the Poor

Source: AsiaOne

Ignoring noisy buses and curious onlookers, street dentist Allah Baksh plunges his hands into a patient's mouth to fit a sparkling set of dentures for $12 (S$16) in the Indian city of Bangalore.
Friday, May 22, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Findex: Sub-Saharan Africa Continues to Be the Leading Frontier of Financial Inclusion

Source: The Huffington Post

Half of the world's population lives and works in the informal economy - not by choice, but by necessity. In the language of economists, poor families in developing countries are consumption-smoothing households and capital-consuming, self-employed entrepreneurs at the same time. As a result, they need a broader range of financial services to manage inevitably irregular income and expense spikes, accumulate working capital, build assets, and mitigate risks. Lacking better alternatives, they often resort to informal financial mechanisms, such as moneylenders, pawnbrokers, and rotating savings clubs, which can be very unreliable and expensive.
Thursday, May 21, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Nigeria's GTBank Introduces New "Short Code" Channel for Mobile Money Transfers

Source: This Day Live

Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (GTBank) said it is applying a breakthrough innovation to enable funds transfer on the mobile phone for the first time in Nigeria for the bank’s customers.
Thursday, May 21, 2015 — South Asia

India's Jan Dhan financial inclusion drive hits customer service barrier

Source: The Hindu Businessline

Creating new accounts is not enough. Banks’ behaviour towards low income clients is a major roadblock
Friday, May 15, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Ecocash Users in Zimbabwe Can Now Make Mobile Money Transactions in Local Languages

Source: New Zimbabwe

Users of EcoCash, the mobile money offering of Econet Wireless, are now able to transact in local languages after the company announced new enhancements to the platform.
Thursday, May 14, 2015 — Latin America

New GSMA Report Finds That Latin America and the Caribbean Have Fastest Growth in Mobile Financial Services Globally

Source: Business Wire

At the Mobile 360 Latin America event today, the GSMA issued the report, ‘Mobile Financial Services in Latin America and the Caribbean: state of play, commercial models and regulatory approaches’, which examines the current state of mobile financial services across Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region. The report outlines important advances in mobile money adoption in the region, showing that nearly two thirds of markets have at least one live mobile money service. Today, there are a total of 37 mobile money services, accounting for roughly 14.9 million registered mobile money accounts, in 19 countries1 in the region. This includes seven new services launched in Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Panama and Peru since 2014.
Tuesday, May 12, 2015 — South Asia

Viewpoint: Contributory Social Security Schemes Launched Last Week in India Could Be Game Changers

Source: The Indian Express

The prime minister launched three welfare-enhancing pension and insurance schemes on May 9. In a country where less than 10 per cent of the population has insurance cover and almost nobody in the unorganised sector has a pension plan, these three schemes are expected to play a significant role in providing social security for the poor.
Tuesday, May 12, 2015 — Europe & Eurasia

Vodafone's M-Pesa Mobile Money Service Goes Live in Albania

Source: Telecompaper

Vodafone Albania officially launched the M-Pesa mobile payment service during a press conference held in the capital Tirana. Vodafone Albania is the second Vodafone operator in Europe to offer the service, following Vodafone Romania in April 2014.
Monday, May 11, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Financial Inclusion in Africa: “Things Are Further Behind Than People Think”

Source: Ventures Africa

Plenty of progress has been made on increasing the size of Africa’s banked population. The trouble is, from the amount of noise that is made about the topic, you would be forgiven for thinking we had fixed the problem when we really haven’t.
Monday, May 11, 2015 — South Asia

Viewpoint: India’s Financial Inclusion Schemes Are Fine, but Why Is the Government Not Addressing Banks' Quality, Cost Concerns?

Source: Firstpost

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his team at the NDA government deserve their due share of credit for initiating efforts to bring a large segment of India’s population to insurance, pension cover at cheaper cost, even as the Congress is crying foul of repacking old UPA ideas.
Friday, May 8, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

In Africa, Mobile Money Is on the Move

Source: Mail & Guardian Africa

Moving money across African borders with the click of a cellphone button just keeps getting easier. The mobile money revolution – essentially the use of cellphones to access financial services – is already transforming the face of financial inclusion on the continent.
Thursday, May 7, 2015 — Asia Pacific

Visa Pushes for Financial Inclusion in Philippines

Source: Rappler

There is an opportunity for financial inclusion in the Philippines, and VISA is banking on such potential.
Thursday, May 7, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Could Stellar Be the Answer to Enable Financial Inclusion Around the Globe?

Source: Memeburn

When the internet first came round in the mid-nineties, people didn’t expect to see impactful tools like open-source libraries like Wikipedia or renting sites like AirBnb or car-sharing ones such as Uber and Lyft. As an open tool, the internet has laid the foundation for these products to be born, reaching audiences far and wide with powerful applications that impact most of our daily lives, whether we like it or not. But a lot of important industries have been left behind in the process. This, however, might be starting to change.
Thursday, May 7, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Tanzania: Mobile Banking Deepens Financial Inclusion

Source: allAfrica

One of the drivers of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) by 7.0 per cent last year was financial intermediation, speeded up by inclusive financing.
Tuesday, May 5, 2015 — South Asia

In India, More Than 50% of Jan Dhan Yojana Bank Accounts Remain Empty

Source: Livemint

Nearly nine months after the Prime Minister’s Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) was launched, more than half the accounts do not have any balance.
Tuesday, May 5, 2015 — Latin America

Total of $125,000 USD Awarded to Two Local Companies for Financial Technology Business Solutions

Source: Accion

Village Capital and Accion Venture Lab announced the winners of their program, Village Capital-Accion Venture Lab: FinTech Mexico 2015. The program partnered with theMasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth, Pomona Impact, and United IT Consultants, Inc. to support entrepreneurs making financial services more affordable and accessible for Mexicans who lack access to traditional financial services (“underbanked”).
Tuesday, May 5, 2015 — No Region Specified

Press Release: Microfinance Leaders Offer Model Law Resource for Financial Consumer Protection

Source: Center for Financial Inclusion

The Microfinance CEO Working Group has published Client Protection Principles: Model Law and Commentary for Financial Consumer Protection. This Model Law provides a framework of suggested legislation for financial consumer protection in the microfinance and broader financial inclusion industry.
Tuesday, May 5, 2015 — South Asia

Why Is Pakistan So Far Behind Its Neighbors in Financial Inclusion?

Source: Business Recorder

Just this month the World Bank released the 2014 edition of its Global Financial Inclusion (Findex) database. Findex provides useful indicators on savings, borrowings, and payments made by people across the world. The data indicate that the global, adult, banked population stood at 62 percent as of 2014 end, but that still leaves a whopping 2 billion folks that still remain un-banked.
Monday, May 4, 2015 — No Region Specified

Viewpoint: The Evolving Microfinance Revolution Has Yet to Run Its Full Course

Source: Devex

Forty years ago, before microfinance was called microcredit, before it even had a name, I made $50 loans to 800 Guatemalan farmers in the form of six bags of 12-24-12 fertilizer, which dramatically increased their yields on the plots of maize and beans they cultivated.
Monday, May 4, 2015 — South Asia

CNET Founder Eyes Bitcoin Wallet in India

Source: The Times of India

From having founded the pioneering digital publishing platform CNET, selling it for $1.8 billion to CBS and filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy subsequently, Halsey Minor — an American serial tech entrepreneur from the 1990s dotcom boom era — has seen it all. His next big bet is digital finance, which he describes as the "last frontier of internet", with all other consumer-facing segments having been already tapped.
Friday, May 1, 2015 — No Region Specified

How The Internet of Everything Is Helping 'Unbanked' Citizens Around the World

Source: Huffington Post

In the future, if every device is connected to the Internet, what kind of life will those who are financially excluded have?
Friday, May 1, 2015 — South Asia

OPINION: Financial Inclusion in India – Easier Said Than Done

Source: Hindu Business Line

Given the numerous players and rapid churn in financial inclusion technologies, regulators face a challenge
Thursday, April 30, 2015 — South Asia

Without broadband, financial inclusion in India will remain a ‘pipe dream,’ says telecom regulator chairman

Source: Indian Express

Advocating deeper broadband penetration to ensure success of Jan Dhan scheme, telecom regulator TRAI’s chief Rahul Khullar today said financial inclusion will otherwise remain a “pipe dream” and merely opening bank accounts will not serve the purpose.
Wednesday, April 29, 2015 — South Asia

Financial Inclusion: How Banking Is Coming to India’s Countryside

Source: The Wall Street Journal

One of the ways that Indian Prime Minister Modi is trying to get more Indians into the financial system is by delivering state support straight into bank accounts of those who need it rather than via costly price subsidies.
Tuesday, April 28, 2015 — No Region Specified

Press Release: MasterCard Fndn. Announces $150,000 Award for the Most Client-Centric Organization Advancing Financial Inclusion

Source: GlobeNewswire

The MasterCard Foundation today announced the opening of its Clients at the Centre Prize competition, a US$150,000 initiative to find and recognize the most customer-focused organization working to enable poor people in developing countries to access formal financial products and services.
Tuesday, April 28, 2015 — South Asia

Press Release: Accion, FMO and Triodos Investment Management Form Consortium to Strengthen Financial Inclusion in Myanmar

Source: Accion

Financial inclusion pioneer Accion, the Dutch development bank FMO, and Triodos Investment Management today announced their plans to invest in and expand Dawn Microfinance, one of the earliest microfinance institutions (MFIs) established in the Republic of Myanmar. The $6.85 million investment is intended to establish the newly incorporated MFI as a premier institution that can serve as a model for the country’s nascent microfinance industry and influence the development of the sector.
Tuesday, April 28, 2015 — South Asia

Other Countries Like US, Russia May Soon Follow the Model of India’s Financial Inclusion Drive

Source: The Economic Times

The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana programme, the drive launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure at least one member in every household in the country had a bank account, could soon emerge as a worldwide template for achieving rapid financial inclusion.
Tuesday, April 28, 2015 — No Region Specified

Industry Convergence in Financial Services Is Accelerating

Source: TechCrunch

These days everyone wants to create the next Uber for anything, and the word “disruption” is mentioned across boardrooms and management meetings in nearly all industries. But while discussing the true meaning of disruption and which fintech startups are worth keeping an eye on, incumbents are at risk of overlooking players that once were customers and partners that can quickly become new digital competitors.
Tuesday, April 28, 2015 — No Region Specified

Press Release: Microcredit Summit Campaign Joins World Bank's Financial Inclusion Efforts

Source: PRWeb

The Microcredit Summit Campaign joins the World Bank Group and their coalition of partners -- including MasterCard, Visa, Mandiri, the State Bank of India, Equity Bank, and Bandhan -- in making a commitment to accelerate universal financial access; financial access and inclusion are stepping stones to achieving the end of extreme poverty by 2030. The Campaign will work with its reporting institutions to help them expand their outreach by at least 53 million of the world's poorest families, bringing the overall total of the world's poorest families reached by microfinance to 175 million by 2020.
Monday, April 27, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Africa Trumps World Giants in Payment Tech

Source: ITWeb Africa

Africa is ahead of the US in terms of the rate of payments innovation, while Europe is lagging way behind.
Friday, April 24, 2015 — South Asia

A Former New York Investment Banker Takes on Financial Inclusion in India

Source: Forbes

When she left New York five years ago, a former Wall Street investment banker had a plan for a new business in India. Today, that plan has become a growing company tackling financial inclusion in a way few have considered to date, in India’s evolving, highly unique, growth environment.
Thursday, April 23, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

'Mobile money is not the only option in Sub Saharan Africa'

Source: IT Web Africa

Mobile money platforms may have taken root in Sub Saharan Africa but they are not the only innovation disrupting the financial services sector in the region, with new technology-based finance platforms also seeing rising uptake, experts say.
Thursday, April 23, 2015 — South Asia

India accounts for about a fifth of the global population without bank accounts

Source: The Hindu

Recent statistics released by the World Bank highlight not only the strides made by India on the financial inclusion front, but also the challenges ahead.
Thursday, April 23, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Somalia's Premier Bank to bring ATMs, debit cards to Mogadishu

Source: Reuters

Somalia's Premier Bank has struck a deal with Mastercard and will issue debit cards and install ATM machines in the capital of the war-ravaged country, the Islamic lender's top executive said on Wednesday.
Wednesday, April 22, 2015 — South Asia

Nepal commits to modernize economy through digital payments

Source: Enterprise Innovation

Nepal recently announced an ambitious commitment to modernize its economy through digital payments, which include joining the Better Than Cash Alliance to foster inclusive growth and transparency.
Tuesday, April 21, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

MTN & Vodafone Interconnect Their Mobile Money Services

Source: CNBC Africa

In a move focused at deepening financial inclusion in East Africa, MTN and Vodafone have agreed to intersect their mobile money services.
Tuesday, April 21, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

IFC, MasterCard in $250M Risk Sharing Pact to Drive Financial Inclusion

Source: The Guardian Nigeria

International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, and MasterCard have signed an agreement to establish a risk-sharing facility, which is expected to provide millions of people in emerging markets access to electronic payments, a crucial next step in their ongoing collaboration to increase universal financial access by 2020.
Monday, April 20, 2015 — No Region Specified

Visa's Plan to Connect 500M to Financial Mainstream

Source: PYMNTS

Visa’s CEO Charles Scharf has got a plan to connect half a billion additional consumers to the financial mainstream in the next five years.
Monday, April 20, 2015 — South Asia

Report: India's Microfinance Sector Poised to Grow Robustly in Next Five Years

Source: VCCircle

The microfinance sector, which is seen as a vehicle of financial inclusion, has seen a boom over the past year as government has laid more emphasis on financial inclusion. The sector is expected to grow robustly in the next few years as large players consolidate their position in their market.
Friday, April 17, 2015 — No Region Specified

MasterCard to Collaborate With the Alliance for Financial Inclusion

Source: Finextra

Today, MasterCard and the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) signed a strategic partnership agreement that will enable a close collaboration within AFI’s Public-Private Dialogue Platform (PPD).
Friday, April 17, 2015 — No Region Specified

Bamboo Finance Announces the First Close of Financial Inclusion Fund II

Source: Insurance News Net

Bamboo Finance, a private equity firm specializing in investing in business models that benefit low-income communities in growth markets, today announced the first close of $31 million in its second financial inclusion focused fund with investments from Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA-CREF) and AXA-IM.
Thursday, April 16, 2015 — No Region Specified

Gender Gap Persists for Bank-Account Holders

Source: The Wall Street Journal

A persistent gap between the portion of men and women who have bank accounts is confounding experts despite huge leaps in access to banking services and the financial system globally.
Thursday, April 16, 2015 — No Region Specified

Press Release: Massive Drop in Number of Unbanked, Says New Report

Source: The World Bank

From 2011 and 2014, 700 million people became account holders at banks, other financial institutions, or mobile money service providers, and the number of “unbanked” individuals dropped 20 percent to 2 billion adults, says a new report released today.
Thursday, April 16, 2015 — No Region Specified

The Slow Global Spread of Savings Accounts

Source: The New Yorker

Last year, researchers travelled around the globe to talk about personal finance with a hundred and fifty thousand people, representing a range of socioeconomic classes, and living both in cities and in remote, rural parts of more than a hundred and forty countries.
Thursday, April 16, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Why Ethiopian Financial Services Industry Is Slow on Mobile Banking

Source: AFKInsider

Ethiopia’s heavily regulated financial service sector is one of the least developed on sub-Saharan Africa with over 80 million people from a population of 94 million still unbanked, despite the rapid economic growth the horn of Africa nation has experienced over the last decade.
Tuesday, April 14, 2015 — North Africa and Near East

Islamic Financial Services Board Adds Financial Inclusion to Islamic Banking's To-Do List

Source: Reuters

The Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) is adding financial inclusion to the industry's to-do list, launching initiatives aimed at widening the reach of sharia-compliant banking to include poorer people.
Tuesday, April 14, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

National Commission to Issue Electronic Identity Cards to Six Million Nigerian MFI Members to Boost Financial Inclusion

Source: Leadership

The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) is collaborating with the Association of Non-bank Micro Finance Institutions of Nigeria (ANMFIN) to register its six million members into the national identity management system and issue them electronic identity card for effective financial inclusion.
Friday, April 10, 2015 — South Asia

Eight Months on, Two Charts Raise Questions About India’s Financial Inclusion Scheme

Source: Scroll.in

Two of every three bank accounts opened under Jan Dhan Yojana have zero balance. Not a single insurance claim was settled during the last year.
Thursday, April 9, 2015 — South Asia

India’s Push for Banks for All Leaves Some Still Outside

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Firozaben, a nurse at an upscale clinic here, opened an account at the state-owned Bank of Baroda Ltd. in December, attracted by the promise of an overdraft provision and accident- and life-insurance policies—all for no fee, courtesy of a government program to bring India’s masses into the banking system.
Thursday, April 9, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Study: Only 2.8 Percent of Nigerian Adults Have Microfinance Accounts

Source: National Mirror

Despite the huge numbers of Microfinance Banks, MFBs, operating in the country and regulatory authorities’ efforts to use them as channels for financial inclusion, investigations have confirmed that only 2.6 million of the adult population had MFB accounts.
Wednesday, April 8, 2015 — South Asia

Financial Planning Lessons From Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Source: Livemint

That Narendra Modi is a skilful orator is not news, but to hear him in person and to see him use ground-level common sense to drive home financial lessons to an auditorium full of bankers is quite an experience. The venue was the 80th birthday party of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) at the National Centre for Performing Arts in Mumbai. And in case you were wondering, as I did, as to why celebrate 80 years rather than the global norm of 75 or 100, Modi said that 80 years is special to Indians because it marks the sahastra darshan or the 1,000 viewings of the full moon by a person who turns 80.
Tuesday, April 7, 2015 — South Asia

No Distance Left to Run: India Post Shutters the Traditional Money Order Service

Source: MediaNama

As Bob Dylan would croak, “oh the times they are-a changing”. India Post is quietly retiring its traditional money order service which facilitated pan-India door-delivery of funds to a payee from over 155,000 post offices, reports IANS. Shikha Mathur Kumar, the deputy director general for finance confirmed to the publication and added that India Post will be pushing the electronic money orders (eMO) and instant money orders (iMO).
Tuesday, April 7, 2015 — No Region Specified

Driving Financial Inclusion at 4G Speed

Source: The Huffington Post

Base-of-the-pyramid financial services providers in emerging markets are increasingly using data analytics to pioneer new products for reaching the unbanked. Alifinance in China is using the underlying transaction data of vendors on the giant online platform Alibaba to underwrite small business loans. M-Shwari in Kenya leverages M-Pesa's mobile money data for short-term, unsecured credit. Cignifi analyzes cell phone usage to provide credit as well as savings propensity scores. Lenddo uses online social network data for credit risk assessment. Similarly, a number of companies including Tiaxa and MODE use cell phone data to extend immediate nano-credits to prepaid customers who run out of airtime balances.
Monday, April 6, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Saving Lives By Making Malaria Drugs More Affordable

Source: Medical Xpress

Forty percent of all malaria-caused deaths in sub-Saharan Africa occur in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria, according to the World Health Organization. The private sector "supply chain" manages 74% of the drug volume in Congo and 98% in Nigeria where malaria-stricken patients rely on "drug shops" and other for-profit retail outlets to get life-saving medicine.
Monday, April 6, 2015 — No Region Specified

Could Your Facebook Profile Get You a Mortgage?

Source: Co.Exist

In the developing world, using people's social graph to determine creditworthiness is opening up billions of new people to the benefits of credit—and a chance at the middle class.
Monday, April 6, 2015 — South Asia

10 Impact Investors in India That You Should Know

Source: e27

Out of the total 1.3 billion population in India, around 80 per cent are living in poverty. There are some companies in India — both in the tech and no-tech segments — helping this large segment to address various problems related to irrigation, lending, travel, education, etc., by providing cost-effective solutions. These impact ventures are getting financial assistance in the form of grants or funds from various investment firms, called Impact investors.
Friday, April 3, 2015 — No Region Specified

Cellphones for Women in Developing Nations Aid Ascent From Poverty

Source: The New York Times

Here is what life is like for a woman with no bank account in a developing country. She keeps her savings hidden — in pots, under mattresses, in fields. She constantly worries about thieves. She may even worry about her husband taking cash she has budgeted for their children’s needs. Sending money to a family member in another village is risky and can take days. Obtaining a loan in an emergency is often impossible.
Friday, April 3, 2015 — South Asia

Indian Prime Minister Modi Asks Reserve Bank to Prepare 20-Year Financial Inclusion Roadmap

Source: Business Line

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday asked the Reserve Bank of India to prepare a 20-year roadmap for deepening financial inclusion in the country.
Wednesday, April 1, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Press Release: Millicom Launches Rwanda’s First Mobile-Based Savings Product with Tigo Cash

Source: Business Wire

Millicom (Stockholmsbörsen: MIC), the international telecommunications and media company, announced today that its Tigo operation in Rwanda has launched the country’s first mobile-based savings product – Tigo Sugira – with Tigo Cash.
Wednesday, April 1, 2015 — No Region Specified

Interview: Transforming Banking for the Poor: A Q&A With Jonathan Morduch

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Microfinance was once heralded as a key weapon in the fight against global poverty. Yet some 2.5 billion impoverished people across the world still don’t have access to basic financial services, according to the latest World Bank data.
Tuesday, March 31, 2015 — No Region Specified

Does Microfinance Still Hold Promise for Reaching the Poor?

Source: The World Bank

Nearly two decades ago, when the concept of microfinance as a poverty reduction tool was in its infancy, there was hope that microcredit would transform economic and social structures. With its focus on reaching the previously unbanked, microcredit was expected to bring about change at the household level, a market in developing countries that traditional financial institutions had failed to reach.
Tuesday, March 31, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Rwanda: Airtel to Give Clients Soft Loans

Source: allAfrica

A micro-money lending platform whereby subscribers will be able to borrow up to Rwf50,000 payable in two weeks has been launched by telecom services provider, Airtel Rwanda and Atlantis Limited, a micro-finance institution.
Monday, March 30, 2015 — South Asia

Indian Payments Company Oxigen Eyeing Up to $200 Million Expansion Drive

Source: Live Mint

Payment solutions provider Oxigen is on a major expansion drive that includes hiring about 1,500 people and ramping up its payment network across semi-urban and rural India. The firm is also eyeing a large share of the remittances market and prepares the ground for launching a payments bank.
Thursday, March 26, 2015 — South Asia

India’s Illicit Moneylenders Aren’t Going Away

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Three bank branches stand across the street from Ajay Kumar Jaswal’s vegetable stand. But their loan officers shun his small business, forcing him to pay up to 20% quarterly interest to an illegal moneylender for the roughly $160 he needs as working capital.
Thursday, March 26, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

85% of Kenyans Have Adopted Electronic Payment Products, Says MasterCard Study

Source: Capital FM

Eighty five percent of Kenyans have adopted electronic payment products including bank accounts, mobile phone, prepaid cards or other payment products, according to a new study by MasterCard.
Thursday, March 26, 2015 — South Asia

India’s SKS Microfinance: Back From the Brink

Source: Live Mint

SKS Microfinance Ltd, one of the largest microfinance companies in India, was a model for many other firms in the sector. Established by financial services professionals, the company was once considered the answer to India’s financial exclusion problem. While SKS has been through its fair share of struggles in the last four years, things are starting to look better for India’s only listed microfinance company.
Thursday, March 26, 2015 — No Region Specified

Funding for Financial Inclusion Rises to $31 Billion in 2013

Source: Reuters

Global investment in affordable financial services for the poor has risen by an average seven percent per year since 2011, a World Bank think tank said in a survey released on Wednesday.
Wednesday, March 25, 2015 — South Asia

Ratan Tata, Others Invest in Grameen Capital's Social Impact Debt Funding Arm

Source: VCCircle

Grameen Capital India, a social impact-focused investment advisory firm, has raised an undisclosed amount in funding from a group of investors, including Ratan Tata, chairman emeritus of Tata Sons, the holding firm of Tata Group, for a new debt investment vehicle.
Wednesday, March 25, 2015 — South Asia

You Need a Banking Law to Create a Bank for the Poor

Source: Business Today

Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank and a proponent of 'social business', a not-for-profit business model to combat unemployment and other social evils, does not mince his words when it comes to micro-credit for the poor. The Nobel Peace Prize winner is dismissive about some recent innovations in the microfinance sector and warns about the direction they are taking. He also believes that micro-credit should be kept outside political influence to run it as a sound financial institution. "The best scenario," he says, "is when a micro-credit bank is owned by the poor." Excerpts from an interview with Shamni Pande:
Tuesday, March 24, 2015 — Asia Pacific

28M Filipinos Covered by Micro-Insurance as of 2014

Source: Sun.Star

As of 2014, 28 million Filipinos have micro-insurance coverage, according to the Insurance Commission (IC). The agency sees a continued growth in this segment as more Filipinos turn to micro-insurance for protection and financial security, especially for calamities.
Tuesday, March 24, 2015 — South Asia

Viewpoint: To Reach India’s Rural Poor, Why Not Try Television Banking?

Source: Business Line

The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) was envisioned to provide universal financial inclusion to rural and urban households. The mission includes not only providing universal banking access to all households but also micro-insurance. The government and commercial banks have accomplished the remarkable feat of opening 12.8 crore accounts within the last six months. While this is a laudable achievement, a number of issues related to servicing these accounts, mostly in remote and far-flung areas, may need to be addressed.
Monday, March 23, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Table-Banking Bridges the Financial Inclusion Gap in Kenya

Source: Standard Digital News

Whichever way you look at it, Kenya and by extension the East African region is undergoing a major transformation as far as financial inclusion goes. In October last year, the Central Bank of Kenya released a report on development regarding the access and consumption of financial services in Kenya. The FinAccess 2013 Survey revealed that Kenya's financial inclusion landscape has undergone considerable transformation.
Monday, March 23, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

MTN Uganda Responds to Mobile Money Fraud Story

Source: PC Tech Magazine

In a rather unusual move last week, MTN Uganda called a Press Conference, the venue of which would be Stanbic Bank Boardroom at Crested Towers in Kampala.
Monday, March 23, 2015 — No Region Specified

What Brazil and Malaysia Can Teach the U.S. About Financial Inclusion

Source: American Banker

When people think about financial inclusion, their minds tend to go first to highly-publicized unbanked regions in Africa and parts of Asia. But many people right here in the United States lack access to traditional financial services.
Friday, March 20, 2015 — South Asia

Pakistan’s Largest Conventional Bank is Expected to Enter the Microfinance Sector

Source: The Express Tribune

Habib Bank (HBL) is expected to enter the microfinance banking segment by acquiring Pakistan’s second largest microfinance bank in terms of the value of savings, according to a regulatory filing by the country’s biggest commercial bank on Thursday.
Friday, March 20, 2015 — No Region Specified

New Youth Agenda At the World Bank? Readers and Development Partners Weigh In

Source: Devex

Can World Bank staff loosen their ties and engage with young people in a meaningful, productive way? Youth champions and development professionals hope that — if approved by senior management — a new team focused on youth will put an emphasis on listening more to young people to incorporate their ideas into the core of the global financial institution’s work.
Friday, March 20, 2015 — South Asia

Press Release: Ennovent’s Impact Investment Holding invests in Anant Learning

Source: Ennovent

Members of the Ennovent Circle, the Ennovent Impact Investment Holding and Upaya Social Ventures, closed a seed investment round in Delhi-based Anant Learning & Development.
Thursday, March 19, 2015 — No Region Specified

New Report Offers Insights into How Young People Save in Developing Countries

Source: Washington University

A new project from the Center for Social Development (CSD) at Washington University in St. Louis shows, among other findings, that girls in developing countries, given equal opportunities, will save as much or more in formal financial institutions than boys.
Thursday, March 19, 2015 — South Asia

Press Release: MetLife Foundation Sponsors ‘The Financial Inclusion Challenge’ in Asia

Source: Market Watch

Today, MetLife Foundation announced its exclusive sponsorship and launch of The Financial Inclusion Challenge. The Challenge, developed in partnership with MetLife Foundation and managed by The Wall Street Journal, is a two-year global project launching in Asia with the aim of encouraging non-profit and for-profit enterprises to submit proposals that provide innovative, sustainable solutions for individuals and families struggling to be part of the financial mainstream.
Thursday, March 19, 2015 — No Region Specified

Calls Grow for a New Microloans Model

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Some of the world’s top experts in microlending recently gathered to debate a hot topic: Has the microloan boom of the last decade actually helped global efforts to lift people out of poverty?
Wednesday, March 18, 2015 — South Asia

INTERVIEW: Muhammad Yunus discusses the Indian microfinance industry

Source: Live Mint

The Nobel laureate and founder of microfinance pioneer Bangladesh’s Grameen Bank says MFIs in India could be greedy and tapping the capital market or raising loans from private equity funds is a bad idea.
Wednesday, March 18, 2015 — Asia Pacific

Asia Steps Up Efforts to Reach the ‘Unbanked’

Source: Wall Street Journal

Across Asia, governments are experimenting with novel ways to widen access to financial services, from using mobile technology for transfers to allowing retail stores to take deposits in remote areas.
Tuesday, March 17, 2015 — No Region Specified

The Mysterious Disappearance of Poverty

Source: Maclean's

How do you help the poor? It is a very old question. The Roman emperor Nero found the answer in the advice of Stoic philosophers like Seneca, and built an awe-inspiring palace covered in gold leaf. This would fill the lower classes with gratitude for being blessed with such a glorious leader. Perhaps not coincidentally, the Roman senate ended Nero’s reign by ordering him to commit suicide four years later.
Tuesday, March 17, 2015 — South Asia

Financial Inclusion in Focus in India, but Bank Loans to Micro Sector Fall 5.5%

Source: The Economic Times

State-run banks may have created a record with opening of Jan Dhan accounts, but when it comes to lending to the poor, they are actually faltering. Bank loans to the micro sector, the target group of the government's financial inclusion drive and Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), have fallen 5.5% over the last 14 months, according to data from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
Monday, March 16, 2015 — Asia Pacific

State-Owned Bank Negara Indonesia Prepares to Launch Branchless Banking Program

Source: The Jakarta Post

State-owned Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI) is preparing to expand its electronic money (e-money) service to increase low-cost funds as well as to offer wider banking access.
Monday, March 16, 2015 — South Asia

India’s National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development Launches Digitization Scheme for Women Self-Help Groups

Source: The Economic Times

With an objective to promote financial inclusion, Nabard today started a pilot project for complete digitisation of women self help groups (SHGs) to improve the quality of interface between members and banks for efficient and hassle free delivery of banking services.
Friday, March 13, 2015 — South Asia

Next Phase of Jan Dhan Yojana to Mobilize Financial Savings

Source: The Economic Times

The finance ministry on Wednesday said the next phase of the government's ambitious financial inclusion scheme, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), will be focused on mobilisation of financial savings to reverse the decline in the savings rate.
Thursday, March 12, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Press Release: IFC Study Shows How Tanzania Became Mobile Financial Services Pioneer

Source: StarAfrica

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today published a study documenting the establishment of interoperability in the mobile financial services market in Tanzania, an arrangement that increases access to mobile financial services and advances financial inclusion.
Wednesday, March 11, 2015 — No Region Specified

3 Ways to Fight Financial Exclusion

Source: World Economic Forum

Inclusion is one of the hottest development topics of 2015. Being excluded, financially or socially, perpetuates unemployment, inequality and poverty. With 1.8 billion young people in the world, and this number growing most rapidly in the countries with the highest rates of exclusion, we can’t afford to hesitate in addressing this problem.
Friday, March 6, 2015 — Latin America

MasterCard and Microsoft partner to promote financial inclusion in Mexico

Source: FinExtra

MasterCard and Microsoft announced a partnership to promote economic development in Mexico by supporting the base of the economy, the micro merchant, through comprehensive projects and innovative solutions in information technology, communication and payments
Friday, March 6, 2015 — No Region Specified

For the 'unbanked', mobile money still has some way to go

Source: Reuters

While many people have mobile money accounts – usually with the phone companies - few are actively used.
Thursday, March 5, 2015 — No Region Specified

MasterCard CEO says financial inclusion is our generation's big responsibility

Source: Business Insider

MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga discussed financial inclusion at Mobile World Congress.
Monday, March 2, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

The Mobile Banking Revolution and What It Means for South Africa

Source: Ventures Africa

New mobile payment platforms can provide a foundation for financial inclusion in South Africa and beyond, says David Abbott of Fiserv, a leading global provider of financial services technology solutions. But who will build the robust ecosystem required to fulfill their potential?
Wednesday, February 25, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

MasterCard, Grooming Centre Boost Financial Inclusion for MSMEs in Nigeria

Source: Disrupt Africa

Over 500,000 female entrepreneurs in Nigeria are to be introduced to electronic payments under a new partnership agreed between MasterCard and local microfinance institution Grooming Centre.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Financial Inclusion: Equity Bank, Master Card Launch New Prepaid Card in Kenya

Source: Ventures Africa

In a manner of speaking, Africa can mentor the rest of the world on mobile money based on the number of such solutions that have been successfully planted on the continent in the past half-decade. In a very recent development, Equity Bank Kenya has, in conjunction with MasterCard, launched a prepaid card with the central aim of deepening the cash lite economy in the east African country.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015 — South Asia

Yunus Sees Room for Microcredit in China

Source: Global Times

Microcredit has been met with immense enthusiasm in China in recent years, with both banks and business moguls pushing into the sector. Global Times (GT) reporters Gu Di and Liu Zhun talked to Muhammad Yunus (Yunus), a Bangladeshi social entrepreneur, economist, and microcredit icon. For founding Grameen Bank, a bank that makes small loans to the impoverished, he was awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. Yunus shared his understanding with GT of why microcredit is flourishing in China and how China's "One Belt and One Road" project could influence the field.
Tuesday, February 24, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Banking Africa’s Unbanked Population is Not the Solution to Improved Inclusion

Source: Ventures Africa

Banking Africa’s unbanked population–adults who don’t use formal banks or semi-formal microfinance institutions to save or borrow money–may not be the solution to providing wider access to financial products and services.
Tuesday, February 24, 2015 — Europe & Eurasia

Kompanion Financial Group Completes Equity Raise with Investment from FMO and Triodos Investment Management

Source: Kompanion

Kompanion Financial Group, one of the largest microfinance institutions in the Kyrgyz Republic both by loan portfolio and number of clients, has concluded an equity raise selling a 35% stake to international investors. The shares were purchased by Netherlands based investors FMO and Triodos Investment Management, with the latter investing through Triodos Fair Share Fund and Triodos Microfinance Fund. Kompanion’s founder Mercy Corps will remain majority shareholder and hold a 65% stake. The funds will be used for growth capital in the lending operations and support Kompanion’s transformation to a licensed banking institution.
Monday, February 23, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Nigeria’s Next Challenge: Bank Us Please

Source: Ventures Africa

Like any other country, Nigeria has its problems. However, Nigeria perched now as Africa’s “Golden Child” with a GDP of $510 billion, ballooning past South Africa who has numerous economic challenges ahead.
Thursday, February 19, 2015 — No Region Specified

Consumer Protection in Microfinance Exceeds 15-Million-Client Mark via Smart Certified Institutions

Source: Center for Financial Inclusion Blog

It’s been an exciting few months for client protection in the microfinance industry. FINCA Kyrgyzstan, MBK Ventura in Indonesia, SKS Microfinance in India, and a number of other MFIs around the world demonstrated that they successfully integrate the client protection principles into their practices and joined the rapidly growing list of institutions that are Smart Certified. Today, we’re pleased to share that the number of clients across all the Smart Certified institutions surpassed the 15-million-client benchmark.
Thursday, February 19, 2015 — Asia Pacific

Low-Income Filipinos Can Rely on Microinsurance When Disaster Strikes

Source: The Manila Times

The domestic insurance industry posted a stellar growth performance in the past year, registering an estimated 28 million Filipinos protected by microinsurance.
Wednesday, February 18, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Zimbabwe: Mobile Money Drives Financial Inclusion

Source: allAfrica

Financial inclusion in Zimbabwe increased to 77 percent in 2014 from 60 percent in 2011 mainly driven by mobile money platforms, the FinScope Consumer Survey has shown. According to the survey, which was launched yesterday, 45 percent of the population (3,15 million) is registered with mobile money platforms. Of those who are registered users, 80 percent use it to remit while 46 percent use it to transact in order to pay utility bills, buy airtime, etc.
Wednesday, February 18, 2015 — South Asia

Vikram Akula's Next Big Gig

Source: Business Today

On January 29, the board of SKS Microfinance, the country's only listed microfinance entity, approved the company's proposal to apply for a licence to set up a small finance bank, a new category of lenders that the Reserve Bank of India has created to drive financial inclusion. A few kilometres away from the SKS office in Hyderabad, Vikram Akula, who founded the company in 1997 and had to unceremoniously exit in 2011, is giving final touches to the application for a small finance bank for his start-up VAYA Finserv.
Wednesday, February 18, 2015 — No Region Specified

Remittances to Developing Nations to Hit $500 Billion in 2015 - U.N. Official

Source: Reuters

An estimated 230 million migrants will send $500 billion in remittances to developing countries in 2015, a flow of capital expected to do more to reduce poverty than all development aid combined, a senior official of the U.N. agricultural bank said.
Tuesday, February 17, 2015 — South Asia

Microfinance Strikes Deep Roots in West Bengal

Source: Financial Chronicle

The Indian microfinance sector has found a new Andhra Pradesh in West Bengal. The sector, which has not been able to see any business in the state of Telangana and AP, has seen brisk business in this eastern state, piping other southern states as well.
Tuesday, February 17, 2015 — No Region Specified

Inequality Has Actually Not Risen Since the Financial Crisis

Source: The Upshot

The notion that income inequality has continued to rise over the past decade is part of the conventional wisdom. You’ve no doubt heard versions: The rich just keep getting richer. Inequality is higher than ever. Nearly all of the gains from the economic recovery have gone to the top 1 percent.
Tuesday, February 17, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Africa Tech Trends: The Age of Start-Up Accelerators

Source: How We Made It In Africa

Start-up accelerators are common in Europe and the United States, where the likes of Y Combinator and Startupbootcamp have emerged as leaders in the model and have offered hundreds of start-ups both equity funding and mentorship to assist them in scaling. But in Africa the concept is still very young, having only really arrived in 2012.
Monday, February 16, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Kenya's Mobile Money Use Swells to a Record $50,000 per Minute, $26.1 Billion Annually in 2014

Source: GlobalPost

Kenya's 2014 mobile money use surged to a record 26.1 billion U.S. dollars, an increase of about 4 billion dollars from previous year.
Monday, February 16, 2015 — Latin America

Mexican Banks Using Mobile Payments Technology to Enable Digital Transactions at Mom-and-Pop Stores

Source: Mobile Payments Today

In a bid to increase card payments and financial inclusion, Mexican banks are collaborating with mobile payments technology vendors to deploy mPOS solutions at mom-and-pop stores. The Mexican government encourages these initiatives, as around 70 percent of all purchases in Mexico are made with cash and the informal economy represents 30 percent of GDP.
Thursday, February 12, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa's Mobile Money Market Could Grow to $1.5 Billion by 2019

Source: EIN News

Sub-Saharan Africa is adopting mobile financial services at a pace seen in few other places, presenting banks and mobile-network operators (MNOs) with a set of strategic choices that will go a long way toward determining their success in the region.
Thursday, February 12, 2015 — South Asia

Viewpoint: Smaller Banks Better Suited for India’s Financial Inclusion Drive; Modi Should Have Waited

Source: Firstpost

There are too many takers for licences for small-sized banks. A total of 113 companies knocked the doors of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) with applications when the deadline expired at the close of business hours on 3 February. The list (see here) includes both the biggies and tiny names.
Thursday, February 12, 2015 — South Asia

For MFIs in India, Transition to Small Banks Could Be Arduous

Source: Business Line

The Reserve Bank of India’s decision to create small finance banks could be a game-changer for microfinance institutions (MFIs) in the country.
Wednesday, February 11, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

World Bank Boosts Financial Inclusion in Cameroon

Source: Ventures Africa

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, has recently announced an advisory services agreement with Mircrofinance Institute Advans Cameroun geared at expediting the rate of financial inclusion in Cameroon by expanding the range and reach of services available to underserved urban and rural populations.
Tuesday, February 10, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Ethiopia Backs Mobile Players for Financial Inclusion

Source: Mobile World Live

Two mobile money platforms have launched in Ethiopia, as the country looks to improve the take-up of bank services.
Tuesday, February 10, 2015 — Latin America

Press Release: Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion and HelpAge Int'l Report - Aging and Financial Inclusion: An Opportunity

Source: PR Newswire

Today, the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion (CFI) and HelpAge International released Aging and Financial Inclusion: An Opportunity, a report that examines the unmet financial needs of the rapidly growing global aging population, particularly in the developing world. The purpose of this report is to highlight the barriers and opportunities related to financial services in older age and throughout the aging process, a relatively neglected area of study.
Tuesday, February 10, 2015 — South Asia

Bangladesh to Get $300 million World Bank Loan for Child Health

Source: Reuters

Bangladesh is to get a $300-million loan from the World Bank's International Development Association (IDA) to help improve child nutrition after a deal was signed on Monday.
Tuesday, February 10, 2015 — South Asia

Facebook’s Internet.org Now Offering Free Connectivity to Millions in India

Source: VentureBeat

Internet.org is now available in India, Facebook said late Monday, potentially bringing Internet access to tens of millions of new users for the first time.
Monday, February 9, 2015 — South Asia

Viewpoint: India Needs Free Market Healthcare

Source: Live Mint

Healthcare is such an emotional issue that basic economics is often taken for a ride. This explains quite well India’s intention—following the release of the National Health Policy 2015 late last year—to move towards providing healthcare as a fundamental right through a universal public healthcare system.
Monday, February 9, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Firms Adopt Visa Digital Payment Card in Nigeria

Source: Thisday Live

Chams Mobile and Skye Bank Plc have signed an agreement to launch the Virtual Visa Card in Nigeria.
Friday, February 6, 2015 — North Africa and Near East

Egypt, MasterCard Sign MoU to Drive Financial Inclusion

Source: BiztechAfrica

The Government of Egypt, represented by The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, and MasterCard have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish a strategic collaboration that will help drive financial inclusion and maximize government efficiency.
Thursday, February 5, 2015 — South Asia

Payment Banks: How It Is Possible to Build a Business Around Financial Inclusion

Source: The Economic Times

Dattaram, 50, earns Rs 9,000 a month doing domestic chores in three to four homes in a Mumbai neighbourhood.
Thursday, February 5, 2015 — South Asia

Mastercard Opens Tech Hub and Preps for Masterpass in India

Source: PYMNTS

MasterCard has opened its largest Tech Hub outside of the U.S. in Pune, India, and plans to roll out its mobile payments system in April, the card brand said on Wednesday (Feb. 4).
Tuesday, February 3, 2015 — South Asia

India's Jan Dhan Yojana has helped poor, but financial inclusion still far off

Source: Live Mint

According to a World Bank survey in 2012, only 35% of adults in India had access to a formal bank account and only 8% borrowed from institutional and formal sources
Friday, January 30, 2015 — No Region Specified

Bill Gates Explains Why Bitcoin Won't Help the Poor

Source: CoinBuzz

According to the World Bank, approximately 2.5 billion people (roughly half of the world’s adult population) does not have a bank account due to reasons such as lack of money, high fees, long distances, and complicated paperwork.
Friday, January 30, 2015 — South Asia

Bharti Airtel, India’s Largest Mobile Services Provider, Applies for a Payments Bank License

Source: The Economic Times

Bharti Airtel, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Airtel M Commerce Services Ltd. (AMSL), is applying for a Payments Bank licence with Kotak Mahindra BankBSE -0.69 % as a partner.
Friday, January 30, 2015 — No Region Specified

A Big Step Forward for Bolstering Financial Inclusion

Source: iMFdirect

Economists are paying increasing attention to the link between financial inclusion—greater availability of and access to financial services—and economic development. In anew paper, we take a closer look at exactly how financial inclusion impacts a country’s economy and what policies are most effective in promoting it.
Friday, January 30, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

If Cash Is King in Africa, Mobile Money Is Heir Apparent

Source: Ventures Africa

For most African businesses and the populace at large, cash is king, owing to the continent’s developing electronic funds transfer systems and the slow uptake of technology-based remittance and payments platforms. But experts believe that the growing integration of telecommunications and banking in most African countries, as well as the continued revamping of platforms enabling electronic funds transfers, is helping mobile money to catch up to cash in terms of popularity.