For more digital financial services in Senegal
In a country where 20 percent of the population uses financial services and where the mobile phone penetration rate reaches 80 percent, the development of digital financial services has tremendous potential to promote access to financial services and to support the economic development of the unbanked population.
Mobile Money for the Poor (MM4P), a programme initiated by United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), today in Dakar launches its technical assistance and research activities in Senegal, in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation, in the presence of all digital finance actors in the country. The goal is to support the emergence and development of new digital financial services.
UNCDF has been present in Senegal since 1981, working on a number of local development support and financial inclusion projects. The MM4P programme is designed to tackle the latter. Initiated in 2012 by UNCDF in countries such as Malawi and Nepal, MM4P was established to address the challenges that digital finance actors face in the least developed countries: namely, the absence or low level of infrastructure (road system, electricity and mobile network coverage) that renders the implementation of a banking system more complex and costly.
Despite the presence of numerous actors and a number of digital offerings, Senegal has yet to see considerable development in digital financial services. Moreover, banks’ expertise is still very limited when it comes to low-income households in rural areas, even though these households represent 67 percent of the population and a quarter of GNP.
The current situation in Senegal is nevertheless favourable to the development of digital finance. The goal of the MM4P programme is to support all actors by promoting dialogue within the ecosystem. "This dialogue between both private actors and the State strives to reach today's unserved populations. The imbalance between services offered and the needs of the rural population is too often linked to a lack of market knowledge. One of our first activities will thus be dedicated to the launch of a series of qualitative and quantitative studies centred on the usage and needs of consumers in Senegal with Intermedia," explained MM4P Technical Advisor François Coupienne.
Agent networks represent one of the central pillars for the deployment of these new services. The agent network outside of Dakar remains poorly developed and isolated in certain areas. In order to better understand the needs of all the actors involved, MM4P will launch, in partnership with MicroSave, an analysis of the current agent network and targeted technical support to increase training for and deployment of such networks.
At the end of 2014, digital services were used by only 6.8 percent of the active adult population (aged 18 and over) in Senegal. The goal of this programme is to reach 20 percent of active users by 2019. This growth will be the result of the joint efforts of all the actors present at today’s workshop organized by UNCDF that launches the MM4P programme in Senegal.
Senegal is also member of the Better Than Cash Alliance and has committed to shift its payments from cash to digital.