World Bank Group welcomes the GSMA to Universal Financial Access Initiative

April 18, 2017

Washington, DC, April 18, 2017 — The World Bank Group today welcomed the GSMA, the global body representing nearly 800 mobile operators and 300 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, to its coalition of partners committed to achieve Universal Financial Access (UFA) by the year 2020. The GSMA brings to the coalition a deep knowledge of mobile financial services, a proven ability to innovate, and a commitment to financial inclusion as a core component of its mission. In this context, the GSMA has pledged to support the creation of 500 million mobile money accounts over the course of the UFA initiative.

Some 2 billion working-age adults globally do not use formal financial services and extending access to finance to them is the first building block to build a better life. The World Bank Group – the World Bank and IFC – has committed to enabling 1 billion people to gain access to a transaction account through targeted interventions and expanding their network of partners to boost financial inclusion.

“The GSMA is pleased to announce its commitment to the Universal Financial Access initiative. Mobile networks are playing an essential role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, enabling new ways to address longstanding development challenges,” said Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA. "Our commitment to support the creation of 500 million mobile money accounts reflects the scale of ambition needed to successfully close the global gap in access to financial services. We look forward to working closely with the World Bank Group and its UFA partners to ensure the conditions exist so that inclusive services, such as mobile money, can reach new heights."

“It is great news that the GSMA is helping to close the gap in access to mobile phones - and mobile money accounts. This will be instrumental in bringing financial services to rural communities,” said Kristalina Georgieva, Chief Executive Officer for the World Bank. “The private sector brings the kind of innovation and investment needed to connect the remaining 2 billion people currently left out of the financial system.”

The 32 UFA partners represent a cross-cutting network of banks, payment and technology companies, telecommu­nication firms, microfinance institutions, regulators, and industry associations. Recogniz­ing that access points, products, and services are increasingly diverse, UFA partners deepen reach in key markets, leveraging a range of business models and expertise.

IFC is working to boost its engagement with the private sector to add millions of new account holders through its investment and advisory work with financial intermediaries and other partners. Existing IFC and World Bank operations are projected to help reach 656 million new accountholders by 2020, keeping the institution on track toward the overall goal of enabling access to those who are currently unbanked.

Speaking at an event today for private sector partners committed to the UFA goal, Martin Holtmann, Manager for IFC’s Micro Digital Group said, “Achieving universal access is an ambitious goal – and one that can only be achieved with strong part­­­­nerships. It requires traditional financial institutions, telecommunication and technology firms to work together. Digital and mobile technology can bring financial services to millions of people currently not included in the formal financial system, more easily and cheaply than traditional banking.”        

The UFA 2020 goal – recognizing financial access as a basic building block to managing an individual’s financial life – aims to provide all adults worldwide with access to a transaction account to store money and to send and receive payments. Access to a transaction account is a first step toward broader financial inclusion, which helps poor families escape poverty and afford such essential social services as water, electricity, housing, education and health care. Access to financing can help small firms and medium-sized enterprises reduce risks, invest for growth and expand operations.

About the World Bank Group
The World Bank Group is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and development expertise for developing countries. It comprises five closely associated institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA), which together form the World Bank; the International Finance Corporation (IFC); the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA); and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Each institution plays a distinct role in pursuing the World Bank Group’s mission to fight poverty and improve living standards for people in the developing world. For more information, please visit,, and

About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. Working with 2,000 businesses worldwide, we use our six decades of experience to create opportunity where it’s needed most. In FY16, our long-term investments in developing countries rose to nearly $19 billion, leveraging our capital, expertise and influence to help the private sector end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit

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