Unprecedented technological advancements and corresponding innovations in business models have helped financial inclusion evolve beyond merely connecting people to a bank account. It is, for instance, helping level the playing field for small farmers by providing access to buyers, more efficient pricing, and speedier payments. It is replacing unwieldy paper voucher systems used amid humanitarian crises with prepaid cards for food and supplies. And it is helping small and micro-merchants expand their businesses by leveraging purchase data to enable credit scoring.
Technology serves as a key driver of change and opens new avenues to address the world’s most complex challenges. It is changing the nature of work and challenging traditional production patterns. And it is changing the skills that employers seek, how people work and the terms on which they work.
This month, the World Bank Group Advisory Council on Gender and Development will meet for its twice-yearly meeting to discuss the World Bank Group (WBG)’s recent developments and initiatives to close key gaps between men and women. Chaired by Kristalina Georgieva and comprising senior government representatives from client and donor countries, private sector and civil society, the Council is the main external consultative body helping the WBG consider frontier issues and accelerate progress towards gender equality.
Earlier this year, the Council undertook a learning session on the role of technology in promoting gender equality. The discussion mapped out some key challenges in this area.
- Information and Communication Technologies
- Labor and Social Protection
- Social Development
- Sustainable Communities
- digital development
- Human Capital
- Human Capital Project
- Future of Work
- labor force participation
- Female Labor
- financial inclusion
- gender equality
- women's empowerment
- Disruptive Technologies
It’s financial inclusion week—a series of events exploring "the most pressing actions needed to advance financial inclusion globally"—making this a perfect time to launch the 2017 Global Findex microdata.
In April, we released country-level indicators on account ownership, digital savings, savings, credit, and financial resilience. Now comes the microdata – individual-level survey responses from roughly 150,000 adults living in more than 140 economies globally.
Downloading the data is easy. At the microdata library, you'll see a screen that looks like this:
Although it’s Africa's largest economy, Nigeria is missing out on the region’s most exciting financial innovation: mobile money.
Twenty-one percent of adults in Sub-Saharan Africa have a mobile money account, nearly double the share from 2014, according to the latest Global Findex report.
By contrast, Nigeria lags behind: just 6% of adults have a mobile money account, a number virtually unchanged from 2014.
The World Bank Group (WBG), with private and public sector partners, set an ambitious target to achieve Universal Financial Access (UFA) by 2020. The UFA goal envisions that, by 2020, adults globally will be able to have access to a transaction account or electronic instrument to store money, send and receive payments. The WBG has committed to enabling one billion people to gain access to a transaction account through targeted interventions. Ethiopia is one of the 25 priority countries for UFA initiative.
We only have to look at the way we communicate, shop, travel, work and entertain ourselves to understand how technology has drastically changed every aspect of life and business in the last 10 years.
But disruptive technology also increases the stakes for countries, which cannot afford to be left behind.
Now again, there is huge potential for digital impact in Africa. But to achieve that, the five foundations of a digital economy need to be in place - digital infrastructure, literacy and skills, financial services, platforms, and digital entrepreneurship and innovation.
In November 2016, we published the “Practical Guide for Measuring Retail Payment Costs”, an innovative methodology that can be customized to country needs and circumstances, without losing the international comparative dimension.
The guide enables countries to measure the costs associated with retail payment instruments, based on survey data, for the payment end users, payment service/infrastructure providers, and the total economy. The guide also enables countries to derive projected savings in shifting from the more costly to the less costly payment instruments.