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MasterCard, IFC unveil benchmarks for agent banking, mobile money solutions

New collaboration between the Mastercard Foundation and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) has come up with a masterstroke that will expand digital financial inclusion in Africa.

The innovation stemmed from a digital study released jointly by the duo, titled ‘Aligning expectations: The business case for digital financial services’, rolled out set of best practice for financial modelling benchmarks for agent banking and mobile money solutions.

Some of the key merits of the benchmarks are designed to aid financial institutions in expanding digital financial services for greater financial inclusion in emerging markets.

Besides, the benchmarks would equally serve as a critical step in achieving inclusive economic growth.

The study further stated that the benchmarks would help financial institutions design sustainable business models for affordable and accessible financial services, targeting previously unbanked populations such as small-scale entrepreneurs, low-income individuals, and rural communities.

The benchmarks, based on a four-year study of nine financial institutions pioneering agent banking and mobile money solutions in sub-Saharan Africa, will make it less costly and risky for new entrants to the market.

Explaining more, the Manager, IFC, Financial Institutions Group Advisory, Sub-Saharan Africa, Riadh Naouar, said the benchmarks showed a viable business case for digital financial services to expand financial inclusion, stating that the development of digital financial services led to an unprecedented increase in financial inclusion in sub-Saharan Africa over the past decade.

He disclosed that the sub-Saharan Africa was the only region where the share of adults with a mobile money account exceeded 20 per cent.

Naouar averred that “Agent banking and mobile money have begun to transform the financial landscape in many African markets, and there is an increasing body of evidence to show that this has real, positive impact on people’s lives and livelihoods.

“The benchmarks study is a knowledge product of the Partnership for Financial Inclusion, a $37.4m joint initiative of the IFC and the Mastercard Foundation, to expand microfinance and advance digital financial services in sub-Saharan Africa.”