Partnership for Financial Inclusion: Our Publications



Digital Access: The Future of Financial Inclusion in Africa

Financial inclusion is one of Africa’s great success stories of the past decade. Just over 43 percent of adults on the continent now have access to formal financial services, compared to 23 percent in 2011. This is primarily due to the introduction of digital financial services and their contribution to the creation of a market for affordable, accessible and sustainable financial services for those who were previously excluded from access to traditional banking services. Over the past six years, IFC and the Mastercard Foundation have worked with 14 financial services providers across the continent to leverage new technology to build and test innovative business models for financial inclusion. We have gained valuable knowledge and experience in the process. This report captures the ongoing transformation of the financial sector in Africa, shares our most important lessons learned, and casts an eye at the future of financial inclusion in the region. One thing is for sure, the future is digital.

Available in English  





The Digital Financial Services for Agriculture Handbook

This handbook offers financial services providers an understanding of smallholder farmers and agricultural value chains, and practical guidance on how to develop and launch sustainable financial services for the agricultural sector. It surveys the current landscape in terms of existing DFS offerings in the agricultural sector, to share actual market experience and lessons learned from the pioneers in the market. Although financial inclusion has expanded dramatically in Sub-Saharan Africa over the past ten years due to the rapid evolution of mobile money and agent banking, access to formal financial services remains limited in rural areas and in the agricultural sector. Agriculture contributes to about 18 percent of GDP across Sub-Saharan Africa, but only an estimated 1 percent of bank lending in the region is allocated to the agricultural sector.

Available in English





The Data Analytics and Digital Financial Services Handbook

The Data Analytics and Digital Financial Services Handbook gives financial service providers an overview of the potential that data and data analytics present for financial inclusion in terms of improving efficiency of operations and effectiveness of product development and marketing, as well as increase outreach through innovative data-driven lending methods.. It is the third handbook on digital financial services published by IFC and The MasterCard Foundation as part of The Partnership for Financial Inclusion.

Available in English, French and Spanish.  



Risk Management and Digital Financial Services Handbook

The last decade has seen a rapid evolution of digital financial services to expand financial inclusion, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. Mobile money and agent banking are new endeavors for many financial services providers, and with new opportunities come new risk. This handbook is designed for any type of financial institution offering or planning to offer digital financial services and offers an overview of related risks and how best to apply a risk management framework to deal with these risks.

Available in English, French and Spanish



The Alternative Delivery and Technology Channels Handbook

This handbook, produced in collaboration with Software Group, aims to help financial institutions successfully implement alternative delivery channel projects in order to further financial inclusion. It provides a set-by-step, practical guide to building alternative delivery channels that links technology choices with the overall business process.

Available in English, French and Spanish.



Field notes - insights from the field                                                                                       
#1 Greenfield Microfinance in Sub-Saharan Africa: a Business Model to Advance Financial Inclusion
Identifying sustainable and efficient ways of advancing microfinance is critical to unlocking the full growth potential of Sub-Saharan African and to ensure that future economic growth on the continent is inclusive. This Field Note examines the role the greenfield MFI business model, local subsidiaries backed by international holding companies, plays in increasing access to finance in the African context. View here>>
#2 Greenfield Microfinance in Africa: Benchmarking Quality, Growth and Outreach

Has the greenfield business model worked? In this Field Note, researchers from IFC and the World Bank used regressions to benchmark African greenfields relative to other microfinance providers and found that greenfields grew faster in terms of deposits and lending, improved their profitability to levels comparable to the top local microfinance institutions, and substantially increased their lending to women. View here>>

#3 Who are the Microfinance Clients? A Case Study on Customer Segmentation and Product Development
One of the challenges facing microfinance institutions that attempt to break new ground by offering banking services to previously excluded communities is to understand new client groups in order to provide relevant and well-designed products and services. This study shows how the effort can be helped by analyzing existing data more effectively and being innovative in collecting new information. View here>>
#4 Find The Gap: Can Big Data Help to Increase Digital Financial Services Adoption?

Rarely a day passes without news of innovative applications of the data we all produce through our frequent use of technology. It is also increasingly recognized that effective analysis of data can support efforts in promoting development. In this latest issue of Field Notes we explore how a combination of big data analytics and socio-economic research can provide a powerful tool to increase adoption and usage of digital financial services. View here>>



#5 Women Make the Best DFS Agents: How financial sector alternative delivery channels create business opportunities for women in emerging markets.



Could gender be a factor when building a successful agent network? This study in the Democratic Republic of Congo shows that the microfinance institution FINCA has attracted a high number of female-run businesses as digital financial services agents and that these businesses outperform their male counterparts in both number and value of transactions. View here>>






Many microfinance institutions have embraced the potential of innovative delivery channels such as agent banking and mobile money, with promising results for the expansion of financial inclusion. Such deployments can also be challenging, with lessons for the industry to learn. This Field Note summarizes the initial observations of a multi-year longitudinal study of eight MFIs in Sub-Saharan Africa that are clients of the Partnership for Financial Inclusion. View here>>






For most microfinance institutions, digital financial services is a completely new type of business. While potentially offering benefits and opportunities to provider and customers alike, DFS are far from the MFIs core areas of expertise and comfort zone. Few MFIs have clear enough visibility of the options and implications of digital strategies to readily determine which is best suited to their particular circumstances. The encouraging news, shared in this Field Note, is that new research indicates that a number of MFIs in Sub-Saharan Africa are starting to get to grips with the challenges of deploying DFS, and are on the path to success. View here>>



#8 Changing change management: adapting internal and external culture in times of digital transformation



The changes involved when a financial institution ‘goes digital’ touches all levels of the business and may even challenge the established business model or institutional identity. The successful implementation of a digital channel thus requires a sound change management plan. In fact, many digital projects that failed or struggled have done so because they did not  address the change factors related to digitizing different areas of the organization. This Field Note focuses on the ‘soft’ or interpersonal aspects of digital transformation in the financial sector.

View here>>




Aligning Expectations: The Business Case for Digital Financial Services

This research report provides a complete set of DFS financial modeling benchmarks for financial institutions, based on a four-year study of nine financial institutions launching agent banking and mobile money solutions in Sub-Saharan Africa. Realistic expectations for a DFS solution are built from a digital strategy to guide development of the business case and a financial model to assess the long-term viability of the project. As a nascent industry, one of the main challenges to date has been the lack of sufficient information on industry benchmarks.


Available in English



A Sense of Inclusion: An Ethnographic Study of the Perceptions and Attitudes to Digital Financial Services in Sub-Saharan Africa

This report is based on ethnographic research conducted by a team at the African Studies Center Leiden, University of Leiden, and focused on four countries of varying degrees of DFS market maturity: Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal and Zambia (original research report). It provides an in-depth description of what digital financial inclusion means in relation to social and cultural factors, and provides an ethnographic framework to market research that can aid financial services providers gain a better understanding of the African DFS user and capture a sense of the deeper fabric of the emerging market. 


Available in English

Opportunities for Digital Financial Services in the Cocoa Value Chain in Cote d’Ivoire: insights from new data

This study explores what role digital financial services may play in extending financial services to rural populations in Sub-Saharan Africa, specifically looking at small-holder farmers in the large cocoa sector in Cote d’Ivoire. It offers unique insights into the financial behaviors of small-scale farmers and highlights possible opportunities for digital financial services providers to extend financial inclusion.


Available in English and French.

The Mobile Banking Customer That Isn’t: Drivers of Digital Financial Services Inactivity in Cote d’Ivoire

Inactivity is a common challenge in the evolving digital financial services markets. While an increasing amount of the previously unbanked are registering as customers of mobile money and agent banking services, a large portion of such customers rarely or never actually use the service. Why is this the case? What can be done to tackle this phenomenon? This new study examines the reasons for inactivity in Cote d’Ivoire, the largest DFS market in West Africa.


Available in English and French.


Achieving Interoperability in Mobile Financial Services: Tanzania Case Study.

In September 2014 the mobile financial services industry in Tanzania signed an agreement that allows customers belonging to one mobile money scheme to transfer money to a customer with an account at a different mobile money scheme. Tanzania thus became the first country in the world with an industry-agreed interoperable market for mobile financial services. IFC facilitated the negotiations that led to the agreement and this case study documents each step of the process, from preparation and industry alignment to the rules drafting phase, to provide advice to other markets that seek interoperable solutions.


Available in English.

Overview of the Mobile Financial Services Market in Cote d’Ivoire 2013

This report is based on market data from the BCEAO and describes the growth of customers, transactions, and transaction values and types. The overall performance indicators show that mobile financial services have reached a reasonably high level of adoption in Cote d’Ivoire, with over 2.0 million active users of mobile financial services in in 2013 and nearly $2.5 billion in e-money transactions during the year.


Available in English and French.

In The Fast Lane: Innovations in Digital Finance.

This study surveys the major trends and innovations in the field of financial inclusion, with a special focus on advances directly applicable to Sub-Saharan Africa. Many new innovations further enhance and improve existing mobile money infrastructure, but the study also points to innovations that build on the existing system to supply services such as microinsurance, pay-as-you-go solar power or drinking water, and text books on demand.


Available in English and French

Partnerships in Mobile Financial Services: Factors for Success

This is the first research study on mobile financial services from the Partnership for Financial Inclusion. It looks at what factors determine successful commercial partnerships between mobile network operators, financial institutions and payment providers in the deployment of mobile financial services, drawing on case studies from Cambodia, Ghana, Kenya and Pakistan.


Available in English.

Greenfield MFIs in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Business Model for Advancing Access to Finance

This comprehensive report examines the progress to date of the greenfield microfinance business model in Sub-Saharan Africa. It finds that after five years in operation, greenfield MFIs on the continent attain larger size, greater reach, higher loan quality and better profitability than MFIs with no strong holding or network affiliation. The paper was co-authored by experts from IFC and the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, CGAP, and is part of CGAP’s Forum publication series.


Available in English.


At the start of the Partnership for Financial Inclusion, in 2012, the team conducted a series of scoping reports of challenging markets in Sub-Saharan Africa to determine the level of market development and future opportunities. Each country report is available below:



Cote d’IvoireGhana | LiberiaNigeria Rwanda Sierra LeoneSouth Sudan







This magazine gives a broad overview of current developments in the industry for affordable mass-market financial services in Sub-Saharan Africa, and mirrors the content of the conference. It includes interviews, thought-pieces and features on key issues in the industry; Reeta Roy on how to build Africa from the base of the pyramid, AccessBank Tanzania on launching agri-loans for small-scale farmers, and the coming revolution in mobile microinsurance.


Available in English.