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Egypt picked for new global digital financial inclusion initiative

Egypt picked for new global digital financial inclusion initiative

Egypt has been selected as one of three countries to participate in the Financial Inclusion Global Initiative, a new global programme to advance research in digital finance and accelerate digital financial inclusion in developing countries.

The programme will be run over three years leading up to 2020 in China and Mexico along with Egypt by the World Bank Group, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures (CPMI), with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The World Bank Group will be leading operational work during this period while the ITU will handle activities related to telecommunications authorities.

Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, Senior Director for the Finance and Markets Global Practice at World Bank Group says the Financial Inclusion Global Initiative will empower all three countries.

"We are excited to work with ITU and CPMI on this new global initiative that will enable our partner countries to better harness the potential of digital technologies for financial inclusion, and to manage associated risks."

Digital finance potential

The ITU says the countries selected were chosen based on specific criteria, including the potential for country programmes, the level of national government and private-sector commitment to financial inclusion, the number of people that could be reached through digital financial services, as well as the potential for reforms to encourage innovation and digital technologies use.

The World Bank Group say the analysis it carried out on Egypt reveals the North African country has the potential to bring more than 44 million people into the formal financial sector as it has adequate laws, regulations and financial and ICT infrastructure - despite the lack of funding to cover financial inclusion related reforms.

Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General of the ITU reiterated the positive impact that the programme will have through its broad focus on financial product design; financial literacy and awareness; diversified access points; and large-volume, recurring payment streams in addition to strengthening public and private-sector commitment and improving legal and regulatory frameworks,

"An estimated two billion adults are still without access to a bank account, and yet some 1.6 billion of them have access to a mobile phone, creating the potential for e-finance access. The ITU community is excited to leverage our unique technical expertise to make e-finance a reality for millions of people through the Financial Inclusion Global Initiative, and in so doing, contribute to poverty eradication and the achievement of the global Sustainable Development Goals."

Jason Lamb, Deputy Director, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which awarded the Financial Inclusion Global Initiative a US$ 12,238,635 grant, has also stressed the potential of the initiative to make a positive impact.

"The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is pleased to support the Financial Inclusion Global Initiative, which we believe will bring digital financial services to some of the world's most vulnerable unbanked populations as well as advance knowledge on creating a robust digital payments ecosystem."

Findings from research and other activities as part of the Financial Inclusion Global Initiative will be presented at annual symposia starting in Bangalore, India on 29 November 2017.

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