Digital solutions and new technologies offer great potential to overcome massive development challenges and will contribute toward the World Bank Group achieving the goal of universal access to financial services by 2020, according to several speakers at a seminar at the 2014 Spring Meetings.
With 2.5 billion people in developing countries deprived of access to formal financial services and more than 200 million small businesses lacking access to the financing they need to grow, expanding access to finance remains a challenge.
“The benefits of digital finance extend well beyond conventional financial services: This can also be a powerful tool and an engine for job creation in developing countries,” said Jin-Yong Cai, International Finance Corporation executive vice president and CEO, as he opened the forum, co-sponsored by IFC, World Bank, and the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP).
The forum, moderated by CGAP director and CEO Tilman Ehrbeck, showcased companies that are implementing innovations in digital finance and was followed by a panel of private sector leaders and government representatives who discussed how these innovations can be taken to scale in developing countries.
Innovators from such firms as bKash, Airtel Money-Africa, and Mobisol described how their businesses are tackling major development challenges by deploying various approaches to digital finance.
“As millions of poor people use mobile money, like bKash, the poor contribute directly to generating many multiplier effects of the value which can be used in productive activities like funding businesses. This way digital money allows common people to contribute in the nation-building efforts and in the macroeconomics of the nation,” said Kamal Quadir, CEO of bKash.