DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania – Efforts to bolster digital financial inclusion in Tanzania and indeed other countries in Africa have received a shot-in-the-arm following a productive conference organized by FINCA Micro-Finance Bank Tanzania in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation .
Bringing in experts, institutions and other players in the financial sector, the conference, held in Tanzania’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, culminated in a pledge by the participants to work more closely in collaboration with governments, telecoms and other financial sector players to come up with innovative and effective means of providing financial services to the base of the pyramid at scale and low cost.
To achieve its objectives, the conference underscored the instrumental role played by collaborative efforts by all sectors through leveraging rapid development in the MNO space, especially mobile money.
Riding on its wide-ranging theme, ‘Driving Financial Inclusion Through Digital Solutions; Implications for Sector Players’- the event, drawing more than 100 participants, provided a most ideal platform to share key lessons and insights learned over the past 5 years through the FINCA – Mastercard Foundation partnership to scale financial services to the unbanked communities in Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi.
“Digital technology models are catalysts to financial inclusion and the development of the digital ecosystem is key to increasing access to finance”, said FINCA’s Chief Executive Officer, Issa Ngwegwe, in his opening remarks.
Ngwegwe extolled FINCA’s rigorous efforts in driving financial inclusion through various products and services over the years, including partnerships with mobile network operators in bringing financial services and products to communities particularly in peripheral areas that would otherwise miss out from banking products and opportunities they bring in developing businesses and raising standards of living.
He further continued to explain: “Digital platforms, such as mobile and agency banking are key in reducing the cost of reaching the millions of Tanzanians who are still unbanked. Partnerships with mobile network operators show great potential in scaling financial services more efficiently”.
Speaking on the partnership between FINCA and the Mastercard Foundation, FINCA Canada’s Executive Director, Stephanie Emond said that this partnership had helped FINCA lay a firm foundation for growth through leveraging financial and learning technologies to improve services and build FINCA’s capacity, while also improving its ability to better understand the needs of its clients and the impact that its financial inclusion efforts had on them.
“We hope that through this conference, we can share some of the lessons from our recent journey and foster more collaboration amongst the space to better address market constraints and help create an enabling environment for accessible and responsible financial services”, Stephanie said.
Available statistics show that collaboration by various financial services and telecommunications sector has had positive and impactful result as evidenced by the increase in the usage of financial services throughout Tanzania from 58 per cent in 2013 to 65 per cent in 2017. However, despite these impressive statistics, a lot more needs to be done in order to ensure a more productive inclusion.