Jul 26, 2016

WSBI (World Savings and Retail Banking Institute) announced today a new partnership with The MasterCard Foundation to help boost financial access and economic development in seven African countries. The Foundation has committed $16 million over 5½ years to enable at least one million people to open accounts at banks in Côte d'Ivoire Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Kenya, Senegal and Uganda.

WSBI Managing Director Chris De Noose said: "Working with seven implementation partners, banks benefiting from the programme will reach new clients, including young adults. They also will see account dormancy and inactivity fall in banks' customer bases."

​Ann Miles, Director of Financial Inclusion and Youth Livelihoods at The MasterCard Foundation said: "This partnership is important to us as part of our mission to scale up access to financial services for low-income people in Africa. Not only will at least one million people be able to open savings accounts at banks, but we will also aim to demonstrate the business case for promoting low-balance savings for financial service providers. This will help other institutions to understand what it takes to serve the bottom of the pyramid with financial products and services that are needed and desired."

​Why it's important
Increased financial inclusion helps address poverty and helps promote social cohesion in communities as well as spur economic growth. Countries with high poverty rates coupled with financial exclusion – little or no access to basic banking services like savings accounts – can lead to low "formal", or bank-held, savings activity.

Banks in Sub-Saharan Africa struggle to close the gap. The lower-income segment is often misunderstood by institutions that try to serve them, and their needs are thus inadequately reflected in business models. The outcome is customer frustration, which can lead to dormant or inactive accounts – an added blow to bank costs and financial inclusion efforts.​

​Changing the banking model in Sub-Saharan Africa
The programme aims for high-impact results with participating banks in the region. WSBI plans to work with partners and institutions to harvest deeper insight about customers to build up more client-focused services while looking for ways to boost banks' trust level with them. The effort also looks to embed programme objectives into banks strategies with knock-on effects for culture change inside institutions, including a transition into continuous learning organisations. ​

WSBI and financial inclusion
​As the largest provider of accounts for the poor worldwide, WSBI and its members look for ways to tackle the financial inclusion challenge. Active in the global policy debate on setting an enabling environment for financial inclusion, WSBI drives the member commitment to its 2012 Marrakech Declaration, which calls on members to provide 'An Account for everyone'. Association members also pledged to reach 1.7 billion customers and 400 million new transaction accounts by the end of 2020 as their contribution to the World Bank Group's strategic goal of Universal Financial Access by 2020. WSBI announced last month that its members had exceeded projections on its commitment to the Universal Financial Access 2020 Goal both in terms of total numbers of customers as well as transaction accounts.

De Noose added: "Innovation is tightly linked to greater financial access that includes greater account take up and more effective account use. We hope to instill that mindset to help all partners forge news ways to help banks in the region and beyond reach their goals."​

Source: WSBI

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