At the third annual MasterCard Foundation Symposium on Financial Inclusion, held in partnership with the Boulder Institute of Microfinance, CNBC Africa interviewed delegates about how to improve access to financial services in Africa.
Reeta Roy, President and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation, spoke about the work being done by the Foundation and the importance of understanding the needs of people living in poverty and improving their access to financial services.
In order to develop client-centric products and services, The MasterCard Foundation believes we need to put clients at the centre of our work. Listen to two clients, Catherine from Zambia and Mamadou from Senegal, speak about their experiences with client-centric financial services.
Worldwide, two billion adults do not have an account at a financial institution, according to the World Bank’s Global Findex report. Only 41 percent of adults in developing economies have an account—and that number drops to just over 20 percent among adults living in extreme poverty. Women, in particular, are largely excluded from the formal financial system. In less-developed countries, only 37 percent of women have accounts, compared to 46 percent of men.
At the Foundation, we champion client centricity in all aspects of our work. The Symposium on Financial Inclusion reflects this priority, bringing together key stakeholders to discuss pathways to financial inclusion with an emphasis on lifting client voices. So ahead of this year’s Symposium, we asked participants to reflect on their perception of client centricity in the financial sector.
Here are the top three insights based on participants’ responses:
The often referenced Portfolios of the Poor – How the World’s Poor Lives on $2 A Day illustrates the impact of financial exclusion by detailing the complex financial lives of the world’s poor. The book shows that despite a lack of access to formal financial systems, people living in poverty not only find ways to save, they create complex systems of financial management in order to make ends meet.
Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 60 percent of the world’s uncultivated arable land. Despite the potential, Africa’s farms produce, on average, much less per hectare than farms in many other countries. As a result, more than 200 million individuals, almost two thirds of the entire U.S. population, are chronically undernourished. And, as we have seen, the majority of those affected are living in rural areas where the small farm is their livelihood.
The drive to universal financial inclusion took a big step forward in 2015. The World Bank’s Global Findex report told us that the number of people in the world without access to any form of financial services had fallen by 20 percent in the past three years, to two billion. That is still a large number of poor people looking to benefit from the financial products and services that people in wealthier countries take for granted, but it shows that efforts to advance financial inclusion are paying off.
At The MasterCard Foundation, we believe that a key element in enabling more poor people to be financially included is for financial service providers to truly understand the needs and desires of the economically disadvantaged. More than designing products and services that they hope might appeal to every segment of the population, banks and other financial institutions could expand their client base by developing products and services that they know will be of use to poor people.
A month from today, over 300 leaders advancing financial inclusion globally will come together in Cape Town. On their minds will be one thing–how can we, as providers, donors, academics, consultants, and support organizations, ensure that poor, excluded clients have access to and use financial services that enable them to improve their lives.
The two-day MasterCard Foundation Symposium on Financial Inclusion is all about delivering client value. In an earlier blog post, we spoke about the first day of the Symposium. On the second day, we’ll ask the difficult questions that keep us up at night: Read More