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Consumer Risks and Digital Financial Services: A Côte d’Ivoire Study

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This paper is a supplement to the CGAP Blog "Growth of Digital Finance in Côte d’Ivoire is Not Without Risks" (September 2022).

Côte d’Ivoire has seen strong growth of mobile money, which has created new economic opportunities on an unprecedented and notable scale, and the country is increasingly embracing digital financial services (DFS) to unlock additional financial inclusion benefits for consumers. However, DFS also exacerbate existing risks for consumers, according to CGAP’s global research, and continue to introduce new and ever-evolving risks—some outgrowing consumer adoption rates. 

To understand digital finance consumer risks in Côte d’Ivoire and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), CGAP launched a DFS Consumer Protection Lab, which drives research and capacity building activities in the WAEMU region. The first research conducted in Côte d’Ivoire is a nationally representative phone survey among DFS users that offers, for the first time, an accurate picture of the risks they faced in the past year. For example:

  • 88 percent were exposed to at least one risk related to the use of DFS, 40 percent lost money either by reacting to a fraudulent message, paying more than expected, or as a result of a malfunction during the transaction, and 40 percent faced difficulties related to their limited capacities. ​
  • 61 percent of mobile money users faced network downtime, 33 percent lacked information on costs, and 28 percent were subject to fraud .
  • Women are more likely to lose money to scams (16 percent of women compared with 12 percent of men), have more difficulty navigating the menu of the digital finance offering through their phones (25percent of women compared with 17 percent) and understanding the financial products (22 percent of women compared with 18 percent of men) .

The survey suggests areas of consideration for providers but also all stakeholders in the ecosystem. Indeed, addressing financial consumer risk is a task that should not be handled by any one actor in the digital finance ecosystem. To operate responsibly, according to CGAP, key players in the digital finance ecosystem striving to add value for customers - especially among women and vulnerable segments who often have low digital literacy - providers, and society must meet at least three conditions (3 Cs), : customer-centricity, capability, and collaboration .

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This work was funded in whole or in part by CGAP. Unlike CGAP's official publications, it has not been peer reviewed or edited by CGAP, and any conclusions or viewpoints expressed are those of the authors, and they may or may not reflect the views of CGAP staff.

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