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​​​​​​​Explores the potential of mobile financial services for low-balance account holders. Part of Scale2Save's annual State of Savings and Retail Banking in Africa research series.​​

​​​BRUSSELS, 29 March 2021 – A new case study​ from Scale2Save in partnership with FinMark Trust​ benchmarks the impact and potential of mobile financial services in several low-income markets in Africa. Released this week, the study identifies key considerations for financial service providers (FSPs) aiming to either introduce mobile services or expand their mobile offerings.

The study features examples of FSPs in Africa, including smaller institutions crafting innovative and beneficial services. These show mobile financial services have potential for all FSPs and their customers. In order to meet market needs, mobile money may play a role, but providers do not necessarily need mobile money to become a mobile service provider. Mobile banking might as well be a meaningful option​.

Following two annual publications in 2018 and 2019 of the State of Savings and Retail Banking in Africa research series, this is the second in a series of case studies that focus on innovations and partnerships to deliver on financial inclusion in Africa.

Mobile money and financial inclusion

In most of sub-Saharan Africa, improving financial inclusion has been driven by the adoption of mobile money. Mobile money operators have cornered most of the growt​h in accounts. Mobile money aids gender equality: though a majority of account holders are men, the gender gap is smaller than for traditional accounts.​

Covid-19 accelerates mobile-led growth

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated pre-existing, mobile-led growth in digital financial services. Though lockdowns have constrained economic activity, they have encouraged a surge in mobile money transactions, as users switch to electronic payments.

Outlook for mobile money in Africa

Institutions deploying new services must look carefully at each market, the role and position of other mobile FSPs, the underlying needs of customers, and the extent to which these needs are being met. FSPs can win significant advantages for themselves and for low-income customers by positioning services to address particular customer needs and marketing products effectively.