Digital Financial Services Can Boost Women’s Economic Opportunities

November 25, 2015

new report by the World Bank Development Research Group, Better than Cash Alliance, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Women’s World Banking, shows how women can better their economic opportunities through the use of digital financial services.

The report, prepared for the Turkish G20 presidency, analyses how women can have access to digital financial services and ways in which governments, businesses and donors can better provide opportunities for women to improve their economic status, especially those in developing countries like Papua New Guinea where accessing formal banking services in and from rural communities is a challenge.

Women face difficulties in reaching financial institutions due to the lack of transport and infrastructure, or because they live in remote communities that are far from banks in urban areas. Other reasons include the lack of formal documentation needed to open bank accounts, or the lack of education and illiteracy that also stand as barriers for women. These are just some of the contributing factors that hinder women’s economic empowerment.

Digital financial services can enable easier access to depositing and withdrawing money, building an efficient savings culture for women which in turn, economically empowers women, and opens up vast opportunities.

This has been proven in rural areas of the African continent, in places like Nigeria, Kenya and Malawi where women are using mobile phones through agent networks to carry out financial transactions. Such methods have been found to be cost effective, easy to use and strengthened financial autonomy where financial services as such where previously non-existent.

Earlier this month, the Bank of Papua New Guinea announced that it was exploring options to provide digital financial services to average Papua New Guineans; acknowledging that digital financial services were a better alternative for the rural populace.

Governor of the Central Bank, Loi Bakani, said that digital financial services minimised costs associated with establishing banks in towns. Through an evaluation made by Microsave, BPNG is now targeting areas where large populations remain ‘unbanked’ to rollout digital financial services.

This should enable more Papua New Guinea access to financial services to boost economic opportunities.

The latest report by the World Bank Development Research Group, Better than Cash Alliance, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Women’s World Banking, contains findings from case studies carried out in rural areas of developing countries; these findings serve as a guideline for stakeholders to use to provide women with easier access to financial services.

Digital financial services (DFS) expands financial service delivery through latest technologies, providing not just women, but men as well, the platform needed to improve their livelihoods.

Source: EM TV