Starting with microcredit in the late 1980s, there has been a growing movement of multilateral institutions, private foundations, non-profits, corporations and governments that aims to provide formal financial services to low-income market segments around the world.
Kenya has been feted around the world for its achievements in advancing financial inclusion. And the speed at which access to the formal financial system has advanced has certainly been exceptional. The development of a near ubiquitous mobile phone-based payments system provided the foundations for a further round of fintech innovation.
Since the launch of M-Shwari in 2012, the number of digital lenders and loans disbursed has grown substantially. Advances in credit scoring, few regulatory barriers and the widespread use of mobile phones and mobile money have enabled growth of the digital lending industry, giving borrowers a quick and convenient option for credit.
On the 5th of September 2019, the Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Kenya and the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), held a stakeholder validation workshop in Nairobi, where they presented the findings of a research study that identified seven key financially underserved segments of the Kenyan population and discussed the potentially viable business cases and policy implications that financial market players could tap into.
In April 2019, the 2019 FinAccess Household Survey revealed that Kenya had made extraordinary strides in financial inclusion. While FinAccess 2019 shows that financial inclusion has peaked at 83% among Kenyans, its findings also evoke poignant questions.
The last blog in this series argued that using formal account access as the primary yardstick for progress in financial inclusion is a poor navigational tool for stakeholders working to strengthen the link between financial systems and the well-being of populations.
Open a report on – or read the mandate of an organization working in – financial inclusion and chances are that in the introductory paragraph you’ll read a variation of a single sentence that motivates the whole endeavor: “Worldwide, more than 2 billion adults do not have access to an account at a formal financial institution”.