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
Tuesday, October 13, 2015 — South Asia

New Initiative Encouraging Indian Diaspora to Invest Launched

Source: The New Indian Express

A new investment initiative, announced by President Barack Obama during his New Delhi visit early this year, that makes it easier for the Indian diaspora to invest in small and medium businesses in India has been launched here.
Tuesday, October 13, 2015 — South Asia

Indian Banks' Association Wants to Be Made Party in Supreme Court Challenge to Aadhaar Validity

Source: The Financial Express

To protect the interests of the banking industry, Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) on Monday moved the Supreme Court seeking to be made a party in a batch of petitions challenging the validity of the Aadhaar card.
Thursday, October 8, 2015 — South Asia

Mastercard, Singapore Management University Set Up New Financial Inclusion Program

Source: Microfinance Monitor

MasterCard and Singapore Management University (SMU) have announced their partnership in a new Social and Financial Inclusion Programme spanning over two years to catalyse research on social entrepreneurship, innovation and financial inclusion.
Wednesday, October 7, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Tigo Pesa Helps in Tanzania's Financial Inclusion

Source: East African Business Week Newspaper

By ensuring that mobile money services are brought closer to the people in rural areas, the company is complimenting the government’s efforts to even out any imbalances that prevent the majority of upcountry people from carrying out financial transactions in a secure manner writes LEONARD MAGOMBA.
Wednesday, October 7, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Banks Urged to Collaborate With Telcos for Financial Inclusion

Source: Ghana Web

Outgoing Chief Executive Officer of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, Albert Essien has called on banks in the country to collaborate with the telecom operators in the mobile money industry to ensure financial inclusion.
Tuesday, October 6, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

World Bank Approves $25M Loan to Support Mozambique’s Financial Sector Development

Source: allAfrica

The Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank has approved a loan of 25 million US dollars to support the Mozambican government's financial sector development strategy.
Monday, October 5, 2015 — South Asia

Bringing MFS Providers Under a Platform Remains a Challenge in Bangladesh

Source: Dhaka Tribune

The Bangladesh Bank move to integrate a total of seven business entities including four commercial banks into Mobile Financial Services platform poses challenge.
Friday, October 2, 2015 — South Asia

Technology to Be Key Enabler of Financial Inclusion: Samit Ghosh

Source: Forbes

While ten entities are on the cusp of becoming small finance banks, aiming to bring the financially excluded population of the country under the banking purview, technology will be the game changer in the space, said Samit Ghosh, chief executive officer and managing director, Ujjivan Financial Services Private Limited.
Friday, October 2, 2015 — No Region Specified

Viewpoint: Why Is Financial Inclusion So High on the Development Agenda?

Source: The Huffington Post

In the sustainable development priorities for the next 15 years adopted by heads of states in New York this week, the United Nations has highlighted financial inclusion as an important enabler for poorer households in the informal economies of the global south to increase resilience and better capture opportunities.
Friday, October 2, 2015 — No Region Specified

New Research Explores the Value of Data to Women's Financial Inclusion

Source: MarketWatch

Governments and agencies around the world are increasingly prioritizing full financial inclusion of women, but moving the needle is impossible without data on how many women actually have access to financial services and through what channels. The Global Banking Alliance for Women (GBA), in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Data2X, today is releasing a draft report for public comment [], based on interviews with over 50 regulators, policymakers, International Finance Institutions (IFIs) and bankers from around the world that reveals just how this data could inform better policies and prompt the private sector to take on this missed market opportunity.
Thursday, October 1, 2015 — South Asia

100 Small Steps: Will India’s Bank Licenses Bring Reform?

Source: CFA Institute

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has been steadily reforming India’s financial sector, in addition to achieving notable monetary policy successes. A few weeks back, the RBI granted licenses to 11 payments banks and followed that with licenses to 10 smallfinance banks.
Wednesday, September 30, 2015 — No Region Specified

Tata Communications and MasterCard Join Forces to Empower 100 Million Women

Source: Press Release

At the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting closing plenary, Tata Communicationsand MasterCard announced a CGI Commitment to Action to financially empower 25,000 women in the developing world, part of a larger vision to ultimately reach 100 million women. The global telecommunications leader and the leader in global payments technology join forces with a unique network of partners including Brightstar Corp, Kiva, Tone, Trickle Up and the Hidary Foundation to bring their shared vision to life over the next five years through access to transformative mobile platforms comprising a range of financial, health and education applications and services.
Tuesday, September 29, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Kenya Announces First-Ever Government Bond to be Offered Exclusively via Mobile Phone

Source: Capital FM

The Treasury has announced the first-ever Government Bond that will be offered exclusively via mobile phone, pointing to the growing relevance of mobile money solutions in the evolving payments space.
Tuesday, September 29, 2015 — No Region Specified

PRESS RELEASE: New Research Explores the Value of Data to Women's Financial Inclusion

Source: MarketWatch

A report from GBA, IDB and Data2X argues that banking data is key to unlocking full financial participation for women.
Tuesday, September 29, 2015 — No Region Specified

Why Is Financial Inclusion so High on the Development Agenda?

Source: Huffington Post

There are several clear reasons why the development community views financial inclusion as an important ingredient for economic and social progress.
Tuesday, September 29, 2015 — No Region Specified

Six Lessons From Mobile Money Ventures In Developing Countries

Source: Forbes

Designing a profitable solution for an unmet market need should be business strategy 101 for most entrepreneurs, so why have so many mobile money service offerings failed?
Friday, September 25, 2015 — No Region Specified

Three Finalists for the 6th European Microfinance Award Announced

Source: Press Release

On Tuesday 22nd September, the Selection Committee for the 6th European Microfinance Award on Microfinance in Post-disaster, Post-conflict Areas & Fragile States, composed of members of the European Microfinance Platform (e-MFP) and Inclusive Finance Network Luxembourg (,) selected the three finalists who will go on to compete for the €100,000 prize. These three organisations are Crédit Rural de Guinée from Guinea, The First Microfinance Institution from Syria and Taytay Sa Kauswagan Inc. from the Philippines. The winner will be announced by the President of the High Jury Her Royal Highness The Grand Duchess of Luxembourg on November 19th, at a ceremony hosted at the European Investment Bank in Luxembourg, during the annual European Microfinance Week.
Thursday, September 24, 2015 — South Asia

Microfinance and Payday Loans: How Paytm's Payment Bank Will Be 'Different'

Source: NDTV Gadgets

"There's so much scope for digital payments, and there are enough unbanked even in the city, that you can tap into with only a little effort," says Nitin Misra, who heads Paytm's payment product pipeline. "We can offer a lot to the unbanked and the underbanked, and for the small percentage of the population that is actually fully banked, we offer safety and convenience."
Tuesday, September 22, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Viewpoint: Bank-Telco Distrust Inhibits South Africa's Financial Inclusion

Source: ITWeb Africa

Although partnerships between banks and telcos are essential in enabling financial inclusion to billions of people in Africa, the egos among the institutions are hindering such partnerships, especially in SA.
Tuesday, September 22, 2015 — South Asia

Report: New-Age Banking Increases the Ambit of Financial Inclusion in India

Source: Livemint

Over the past decade, the Indian banking sector has witnessed a sustained push in the form of a number of initiatives and reforms from the government as well as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). The sector has grown significantly in terms of customer base, coverage and business.
Friday, September 18, 2015 — No Region Specified

FI2020 Week to Convene Global Conversations on Financial Inclusion

Source: Press Release

The Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion (CFI) today announced the upcoming launch of Financial Inclusion 2020 (FI2020) Week, taking place from November 2-6, 2015.
Friday, September 18, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Equity Completes Acquisition of DRC-Based ProCredit Bank

Source: Standard Digital News

Equity has completed acquisition of ProCredit Bank of the Democratic Republic of Congo after receiving regulatory approval from Kenya and DRC.
Tuesday, September 15, 2015 — South Asia

Viewpoint: Why India’s Department of Post Should Be Restructured for Financial Inclusion and Efficiency

Source: Livemint

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently gave a licence to India Post to function as a payments bank. Does it change anything for the people? Post offices in India have already been working as payments banks. Individuals open accounts, deposit and withdraw money by cash or cheques and receive payments through them. All these transactions are meticulously recorded manually in their passbook. Post offices do not provide any loans or carry out any credit transaction. This has been in operation for more than a century and much before the RBI came into existence. So, what would change after the RBI’s licence?
Tuesday, September 15, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Vision and Discipline: How to Innovate for Increased Financial Inclusion

Source: The Huffington Post

Globally, some two billion working-age adults in emerging markets are excluded from the type of financial intermediation that we take for granted in the developed world: a transaction account to send and receive money; the ability to save for a rainy day; access to credit if needed for bigger, spiky outlays; insurance to help mitigate the financial consequences of an unfortunate event.
Friday, September 11, 2015 — South Asia

Financial Inclusion a Theme at MasterCard Investor Day


During MasterCard’s Investment Community Meeting on Wednesday (Sept. 9), the remarks from CEO Ajay Banga and his executive team gave a pretty good indication into how MasterCard views its role in the fast-moving digital payments ecosystem.
Friday, September 11, 2015 — South Asia

Foreign Investment Approved for White-Label ATMs in India - But Hurdles Remain

Source: Livemint

In order to boost a space that has grown at a snail’s pace, the government on Wednesday approved 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) under the automatic route for non-bank entities that operate cash machines, subject to certain conditions. Wednesday’s move, the government said, will help improve financial inclusion in the country.
Thursday, September 10, 2015 — No Region Specified

New Report Examines Payment Aspects of Financial Inclusion

Source: The World Bank

The Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures (CPMI) and the World Bank Group today issued a consultative report on Payment aspects of financial inclusion. The report examines demand and supply-side factors affecting financial inclusion in the context of payment systems and services, and suggests measures to address these issues.
Wednesday, September 9, 2015 — South Asia

Gates Foundation to Help India’s Payments Banks with Tech, Innovation

Source: DealStreetAsia

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will help newly licensed payment banks in technology sharing and innovation as it expects India to become a global showcase for digital payment systems in the next three to five years, Daniel Radcliffe, senior officer at the financial services for the poor (FSP) programme at the foundation, said in an interview on Friday.
Wednesday, September 9, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Glo Xchange Rolls Out Super Agent Mobile Money Network in Nigeria

Source: Leadership

Globacom will from today commercially roll out Glo Xchange super agents’ network that will drive mobile money implementation across Nigeria in partnership with four leading deposit money banks, bringing 80 million unbanked Nigerians into the formal financial sector.
Wednesday, September 9, 2015 — South Asia

Founder of Newly Licensed Payments Bank Paytm Plans to Bring Half a Billion Indian Users to Platform by 2020

Source: VCCircle

Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder of Paytm, was one of the two individuals, besides nine other entities, to be granted a payments bank licence. He believes that being a payments bank, Paytm can now provide its customers with a three-step life cycle comprising pay, buy and save.
Friday, September 4, 2015 — South Asia

Funding for Indian Startups Won’t Dry Up: Omidyar’s Roopa Kudva

Source: DealStreetAsia

Roopa Kudva, 51, took charge of the India operations of New York-based impact investor Omidyar Network in early July.
Friday, September 4, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

FAO and MasterCard Join Forces on Financial Inclusion

Source: Finextra

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and MasterCard are joining forces to create an innovative new alliance against hunger.
Thursday, September 3, 2015 — No Region Specified

Five Key Findings From the 2015 Financial and Digital Inclusion Project Report & Scorecard

Source: Brookings

Convenient access to banking infrastructure is something many people around the world take for granted. Yet while the number of people outside the formal financial system has substantially decreased in recent years, 2 billion adults still do not have an account with a formal financial institution or mobile money provider.
Thursday, September 3, 2015 — South Asia

Will India’s New Focus on Financial Inclusion Pay Off?

Source: Knowledge@Wharton

When India launched the Jan Dhan (people’s wealth) program a year ago, many observers regarded it as an experiment that would fail. But while the program may not have measured up to the claims of its proponents, evidence shows it has had some positive impacts.
Thursday, September 3, 2015 — No Region Specified

Mobile Lender InVenture Raises $10 Million

Source: The Wall Street Journal

InVenture Capital Corp., a provider of small loans by cellphones, has raised $10 million in Series A funding, Yuliya Chernova reports for Dow Jones VentureWire. The company has a mobile app that can be downloaded by users, who then can request a loan. Once the user has granted the app access to their device, the company’s algorithm evaluates the activity on their mobile money accounts, such as how much they deposit and withdraw, the timeliness of their utility bill payments, and thousands of other nuggets of information such as social media, demographic, and communications patterns, to make a loan decision in minutes. The company currently operates in Kenya and Tanzania. Data Collective led the Series A round, which includedLowercase Capital, Collaborative Fund, Female Founders Fund and individual investors.
Thursday, September 3, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Viewpoint: The Case for Islamic Microfinance in Africa

Source: Zawya

Professor Badr El Din A. Ibrahim, President of the Microfinance Unit at the Central Bank of Sudan, discusses why Shari'ah-compliant financing is key.
Wednesday, September 2, 2015 — South Asia

PRESS RELEASE: India Announces New Partnership to Accelerate Financial Inclusion for Everyone

Source: PR Newswire

Government of India joins the United Nations' Better Than Cash Alliance to share success stories from the world's largest financial inclusion program.
Wednesday, September 2, 2015 — South Asia

Citibank to launch financial tech accelerator program in India

Source: The Hindu BusinessLine

Citibank India is in talks with digital payment companies and telecom operators to kick-start its financial tech accelerator program.
Monday, August 31, 2015 — South Asia

India's microfinance institutions see gross loan growth of 69% in the previous quarter

Source: Your Story

Microfinance institutions saw a healthy 69% growth in their gross loan portfolio in the April June quarter compared to that in the same period of last year.
Monday, August 31, 2015 — Latin America

Seven Emerging FinTech Players In Top Latin American Markets

Source: Forbes

Only about half of all adults in Latin America and the Caribbean had a bank account, and only 14% had formal savings - and a host of companies recognize the opportunity.
Friday, August 28, 2015 — South Asia

Tough Challenges Await India's Chandrashekhar Ghosh's Bandhan in Its Commercial Bank Avtaar

Source: Firstpost

On Sunday, Kolkata-based microfinance institution (MFI), Bandhan Financial Services formally converted itself into a full service commercial bank, thus becoming the latest private sector bank in the country. Bandhan is one of the two entities, which were given full-service banking licences by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in April, 2014, from a list of 25 aspirants that included big business houses. The other is IDFC.
Friday, August 28, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

South Africa Shines in Financial Inclusion Report

Source: BDlive

SAS CORES high on a global index measuring progress in financial inclusion in emerging markets.
Thursday, August 27, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

9 African Countries That Score Highest for Financial Inclusion

Source: AFKInsider

Mobile technology has accelerated financial inclusion for the so-called under served — people with inadequate access to traditional banking institutions — according to a newly released Brookings report.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

PRESS RELEASE: MoneyGram Expands Mobile Money Choices in Africa

Source: PR Newswire

New agreement enables customers to receive money directly to M-Pesa accounts in Tanzania.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015 — South Asia

What payments banks, Bandhan can do for financial inclusion in India

Source: Daily O

There have two big developments in financial inclusion in the country in the past few days, whose significance stands out despite the din arising from the recent global stock market crash.
Tuesday, August 25, 2015 — South Asia

India ranks 9th in Brookings financial inclusion scorecard - but 1st in country commitment

Source: Live Mint

India ranked ninth out of 21 countries for its overall financial and digital inclusion efforts, according to the 2015 Brookings Financial and Digital Inclusion Project (FDIP) Report and Scorecard that was launched on Tuesday.
Monday, August 24, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Consumers lose out as Safaricom and Equity tariff wars intensify

Source: Standard Digital

A fresh storm is brewing between Kenya’s financial services giants, Safaricom and Equity Bank, over the rates being levied to consumers making transactions across the two service providers.
Friday, August 21, 2015 — South Asia

OPINION: Payments Banks - A game-changing idea for financial inclusion in India

Source: Business Insider

Over the next decade or so, payment banks' functioning has the potential to bring about another revolution in the banking sector.
Friday, August 21, 2015 — South Asia

Indian government committed to reviving postal department through payments banking

Source: Times of India

Communications minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Thursday said the government will revive the postal department by using over 1.5 lakh post offices for furthering financial inclusion.
Thursday, August 20, 2015 — South Asia

Indian mobile operators feature strongly among 'payments bank' license winners

Source: Mobile World Live

Bidders linked to the country’s top three mobile operators – Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular – as well as newcomer Reliance Jio Infocomm and Telenor were among eleven winners of payments bank licenses in India.
Thursday, August 20, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Kenyan banks take on M-PESA in fight for money transfer billions

Source: The Daily Nation

Kenya Bankers Association plans to launch an interbank mechanism to enable interoperability across member banks for all retail payment streams, aiming to eat into M-PESA’s market share.
Thursday, August 20, 2015 — Asia Pacific

A Hundred Apps Bloom in China as Millions Bank on Their Phones

Source: Bloomberg

Consumers are skipping straight from cash to mobile finance.
Thursday, August 20, 2015 — No Region Specified

A smile boosts the chances of getting a microloan, say Stanford psychologists

Source: Stanford

Stanford psychologists found that applicants for microloans are more likely to win approval if the photograph they send along with the application evokes a positive emotional response.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015 — South Asia

Report: Four in five households in Bangladesh have access to financial services

Source: The Daily Star

Four in five households in Bangladesh have access to financial services, thanks to improvements in the networks of banks and microfinance institutions as well as a booming mobile banking segment, according to a new study.
Tuesday, August 18, 2015 — No Region Specified

PRESS RELEASE: Smart Campaign Now Serves More Than 20 Million Low-income Clients

Source: PR Newswire

Momentum for Smart Campaign Certification Accelerates; Six Million ‘Protected’ Clients Added in Last Six Months.
Monday, August 17, 2015 — South Asia

Big Response to Government’s Low-Cost Insurance Schemes in India

Source: The Hindu Business Line

The low-premium life and accident insurance schemes introduced by the government recently have elicited huge response, attracting 11 crore subscribers in just three months.
Friday, August 14, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

New $35 million competition will enable greater financial inclusion for smallholder farmers in Africa

Source: Graphic Online

The MasterCard Foundation has announced the opening of a US$35 million Scaling Competition under its Fund for Rural Prosperity.
Thursday, August 13, 2015 — South Asia

PRESS RELEASE: India’s Financial Inclusion Leader IFMR Holdings Raises $25m from Accion, LeapFrog and Lok

Source: Accion

IFMR Holdings, a leading financial inclusion platform in India, has announced that they have raised US $25 million in equity from Accion, a financial inclusion pioneer, LeapFrog Investments, a specialist investor in emerging-market financial services, and Lok Capital, an Indian impact investment firm.
Wednesday, August 12, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Disrupting Remittances Through Mobile Money in Uganda

Source: Disrupt Africa

The money remittance industry sees over US$34 billion sent to sub-Saharan Africa each year, accounting for an average of 5 per cent of GDP on a country-by-country basis. However, for those sending and receiving money, the systems in place are inefficient and time-consuming.
Tuesday, August 11, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Fintech firm takes biometric microfinance tool to Uganda

Source: Planet Biometrics

Awamo, a fintech firm firm formerly known as BCB Biometric Credit Bureau, has revealed that it is taking a biometric microfinance solution it has developed to Uganda thanks to $550,000 it has raised in Series-A funding.
Tuesday, August 11, 2015 — Asia Pacific

Rising Fintech Investment in Asia Suggests Room for Bitcoin Opportunities

Source: News BTC

More and more companies are tapping into the Asian market when it comes to financial technology investment, as the region has seen growth in remittances while some countries have weak banking sectors. This opens up a market gap that could make room for bitcoin opportunities later on.
Monday, August 10, 2015 — No Region Specified

In a Push for Financial Inclusion, the eBay Foundation and a Focus on Entrepreneurs

Source: Inside Philanthropy

Pierre Omidyar established the eBay Foundation in 1998 with an endowment of pre-IPO eBay stock. The foundation has always been modest in size, which is probably why we haven't written about it before. It had assets of $30 milllion in a recent year, and gives out between $3 million and $5 million annually to a limited set of grantees.
Monday, August 10, 2015 — South Asia

Visa to launch payments service for mobile phones in September in India

Source: MediaNama

Close on the the heels of MasterCard launching a digital wallet for Citibank India customers, rival global payments gateway Visa will be starting a new payments service for Indian customers in September.
Friday, August 7, 2015 — South Asia

Only 15% of Pakistanis Use Digital Financial Services

Source: The Express Tribune

Only 15% of Pakistanis use Digital Financial Services, and there has been no significant increase in the user base or registrations between 2013 and 2014, said a Financial Inclusion Insights (FII) survey report.
Thursday, August 6, 2015 — Asia Pacific

China's move to regulate Internet payments sparks concern

Source: The Australian

China is moving to limit the lightly regulated world of internet payments, an initiative that some critics warn could stifle development in one of the most innovative sectors of the economy.
Tuesday, August 4, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Why South Africa’s largest mobile network, Vodacom, failed to grow M-Pesa

Source: Quartz

With just one million subscribers at the end of March 2015—the uptake of the mobile money platform M-Pesa has been labelled a failure in South Africa.
Friday, July 31, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Posta Uganda to Launch Financial Services

Source: New Vision

Posta Uganda will launch financial services to use its country wide postal networks to promote financial inclusion especially the unbanked rural communities.
Thursday, July 30, 2015 — South Asia

Singapore Fintech Out to Empower Asia’s Unbanked

Source: The Establishment Post

For most of us including Singaporeans, not having access to credit and debit cards is almost unheard of. Beyond the Little Red Dot though, citizens in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East continue to transact with cash and coins. They are the world’s unbanked who have minimal contact with banks and financial services. Though the unbanked make up about half of the world’s adult populace today, emerging financial technology startups including Singapore fintech startups are amplifying efforts to bring financial inclusion to the unbanked right at their fingertips.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015 — South Asia

Islamic banking consistently expanding in Pakistan

Source: Daily Times

Last week, the State Bank of Pakistan granted its first license to a micro-finance bank and brought it into the Islamic mode.
Monday, July 27, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

President Obama a Fan of M-PESA, Kenyan Innovation

Source: All Africa

US President Barack Obama has endorsed Kenya's innovation powerhouse status and regional economic might during the opening of the 6th Global Entrepreneurship summit.
Monday, July 27, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Bitcoin companies move ahead in Africa

Source: PC Advisor

Efforts to get Bitcoin off the ground in Africa received a boost this week as BitX announced it has raised $4 million in funding.
Monday, July 27, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

The battle between Africa’s mobile phone companies and banks is a boon for financial inclusion

Source: Quartz

Now banks are not only trying to compete in this space but also offer new products that promise access to banking services to those who up until this point were excluded.
Friday, July 24, 2015 — Sub-Saharan Africa

Africa Makes Leap in Cross-Border Mobile Payments

Source: Wall Street Journal