Tagattitude convened 40 decision-makers in the banking and payments sector to discuss how digital banking is transforming the financial inclusion landscape in Africa.

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The biggest gaps to achieving financial inclusion in the country/industry in focus:

In order to reach financial inclusion by 2020, it is essential to set up ecosystems that allow the undeserved to not only save and send their money but also to pay directly with their phones in stores. If a client has to cash-out in order to pay in a store then a lot of the benefits of putting money into a secure digital account are lost. Acquisition with mobile contactless transactions is a mandatory service that must be offered to local populations. Sound payments, using Near Sound Data Transfer (NSDT) technology, turn any mobile phone into a payment tool, without any change in hardware or software, and independently from Mobile Network Operators. The technology exists. It is now time to build the networks of merchants to keep people’s money safe along the entire chain.

Key action steps to advance financial inclusion:

We all agreed that it is time to start concrete field achievements. Five of the attendees at the roundtable have committed to deploy digital banking programs for financial inclusion in the next twelve months. 

Quote(s) from the discussion:

“The mobile phones in people’s pockets will be used as tools to deploy financial inclusion, if and only if innovative technology is used to transform the phone into an authentication and banking tool.”

-- Yves Eonnet, Tagattitude

“Interoperability in a given country requires that local actors switch from a closed loop and proprietary philosophy, to an open loop and non-proprietary strategy. This is going to be very difficult, but will be a major change that has to be done in the MNO industry.”

-- Thierno Seck, Sefima Advisory Services

“Regulation is one of the most central barriers, and opportunity, for financial inclusion initiatives. Innovation in technology is evolving much faster than what regulators can follow. This must evolve urgently.”

-- Thierno Seck, Sefima Advisory Services

“Financial Inclusion is an ecosystem issue, where different actors have to cooperate and therefore interface in order to deliver a complet range of financial services to the population. Banks are in a very good positioned to play that role."

-- David Martin, Consultant 

“Agnostic technologies are now obviously required: You are not going to only pay your employees who share the same MNO network as you.”

-- Antoine Leroux, Société Générale

"Branchless banking means that the agent goes to see customers where they live. So we know much better who they are, what they do, and how established they are. It enables more intelligent scoring for loan disbursements.”

-- Antoine Leroux, Société Générale

"Digital banking creates a much better proximity, than branches. People check their account 30 times a month and each time it gives the bank an opportunity to communicate with its client."

-- Antoine Leroux, Société Générale

"Even if the transactions are still in cash, digital banking can provide very efficient and valuable traceability of transactions as a first step towards building a complete digital ecosystem."

-- Antoine Leroux, Société Générale

"Cash needs to be digitalized not just for security and efficiency’s sake, but also because of the enormous cost on the central bank. It also provides traceability."

-- Thierno Seck, Sefima Advisory Services