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BRUSSELS, 26 November 2019 – Banks that want to accelerate financial inclusion should focus on young people in Africa, understand their lives and needs better, and offer them appropriate and tailored products. These are among the key conclusions of a 45-page report by Scale2Save that looks at how younger sections of the population in three African countries manage their income, expenditure, and savings.
Scale2Save is a partnership between WSBI and Mastercard Foundation to establish the viability of small-scale savings. The partnership commissioned this study to understand better the needs of unserved youth in three rapidly growing countries – Morocco, Nigeria and Senegal.
Lessons from the study can help financial institutions, financial inclusion experts from NGOs, intergovernmental organisations and academia, as well as policymakers tackle the challenge of bringing new generations of savers into mainstream savings accounts.
WSBI Programme Director Ian Radcliffe said: “Products that do not grow with young people rapidly slip into dormancy. Only when financial service providers can keep up with the changing needs of younger customers will investments in serving them be made to work for all involved."
Based on analysis of Findex data, the report found substantial improvements in young people's access to basic financial services in Nigeria and Senegal. Between 2011 and 2017, the number of young Nigerians and Senegalese reporting access to financial services grew by 12 million. But the number of young people also grew rapidly, by 8 million, so the net impact on the size of the unserved young Nigerian and Senegalese population was a fall of only 4 million. Progress of inclusion in Morocco looks slower: the total number of excluded young people is not falling.
Drawing upon diaries and qualitative data collected in the field in Morocco, Nigeria, and Senegal, the study recommends three main pathways by which financial institutions can better connect with young people.
Focus on youngest groups and build their loyalty using digital tools
Mid-teens (15-17) and youth (18-24) are quick to connect via digital technologies. Whilst consumer protection remains key, policy makers and financial institutions might want to focus more on mid-teens. Those in this group, often supported by parents, may frequently receive money from family members. In the three countries surveyed, under-18s cannot legally open accounts, even though they are often digitally adept.
Segment the market and make existing products more useful to better connect to young people's income, savings and spending behaviour
Young people are active savers, the study notes. The more they earn, the more they save – and mostly through informal ways. Although income levels vary by age group, all segments have the potential to save, service a loan, or invest in a business. The service mix is important because whatever product solution financial service providers develop for this market, it has to be digital and should support the dynamics of intra-family spending and receiving.
Collaborate to strengthen support to young entrepreneurs
Many young people aspire to become entrepreneurs, hence the need to address access to finance and better training. Financial institutions have already begun to respond to the challenge of providing better support to entrepreneurs. There is a strong case, however, for policy makers and financial institutions to collaborate more closely to reinforce broad-based support to young entrepreneurs, which should lead to more access to funding, entrepreneurial training, and successful self-employment.
Radcliffe concluded: “We hope the findings and recommendations will make a difference to the outlook and help Africa's banks join in building a better future for the current and future generations of young people as they enter adulthood."
Contact: James Pieper, WSBI press office, +32 2 211 1192, firstname.lastname@example.org
Scale2Save is a partnership between WSBI and Mastercard Foundation to establish the viability of small-scale savings in six African countries. The six-year programme aims for 1 million more people banked in those countries through projects using innovative models. Learn more about Scale2Save online and @Scale2Save on Twitter.
The World Savings and Retail Banking Institute (WSBI), founded in 1924, represents the interests of 6,000 savings and retail banks globally, with total assets of $15 trillion and serving some 1.3 billion customers in nearly 80 countries (as of 2016). The Institute focuses on international regulatory issues that affect the savings and retail banking industry. It supports the achievement of sustainable, inclusive, balanced growth and job creation, whether in industrialised or less developed countries. Learn more at www.wsbi-esbg.org.
About the Mastercard Foundation
The Mastercard Foundation seeks a world where everyone has the opportunity to learn and prosper. The Foundation's work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion for people living in poverty. One of the largest foundations in the world, it works almost exclusively in Africa. It was created in 2006 by Mastercard International and operates independently under the governance of its own Board of Directors. The Foundation has offices in Toronto, Canada and in Kigali, Rwanda. Visit www.mastercardfdn.org for more information and to sign up for the Foundation's newsletter. Follow the Foundation at @MastercardFdn on Twitter.
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