FinEquity Guide

FinEquity Knowledge Guide: Digital Financial Literacy

DFL knowledge guide cover image

Recent years have seen a flurry of activity around digital financial literacy (DFL); the financial inclusion sector has come to recognize the role it plays in the adoption and usage of digital financial services (DFS) amongst women. As illustrated in the diagram below, DFL sits at the intersection of digital literacy and financial literacy and is constrained by gendered social norms on the client side, and enabled in different measures by factors such as access (financial account, mobile phone, electricity, etc.), numeracy, literacy, consumer awareness (women often being more risk aware) and the use of gender-intelligent design.

Two years ago, FinEquity facilitated a Dgroups Dialogue on DFL, and in 2021 published a synthesis on the subject. Now, in 2023, DFL is acknowledged as one of the primary barriers to women’s financial inclusion globally, making this an opportune moment to collate some of the best existing resources around this crucial subject. 

DFL diagram

What is the purpose of this guide?

The financial services industry has identified DFL as a key factor for women’s financial inclusion, illustrated in part by the rapid upsurge in the volume of DFL resources. DFL is a complex topic; the density and specificities of the subject matter can make it challenging to navigate to the precise resources that are needed. This guide aims to provide a curated list of resources for community members looking to better understand how they can better understand, and incorporate DFL in their programming. To steer user’s search, this guide is split into three subsections:  

  1. Good practice guidelines - this includes toolkits, research papers, methodologies, and other high-level tools that offer broader, more theory-based insight.

  2. Implementation case studies - this section provides examples of DFL initiatives, offering oversight into their processes and outcomes.

  3. Example curricular - this section focuses on resources that act as training materials – posters, audio files, discussion guides, and scripts. They can be adapted and shaped to improve women’s DFL in other environments. 

As with all FinEquity’s Knowledge Guides, this is not an exhaustive list but rather a curated/selected selection of resources. FinEquity will take new resources into consideration as they are published and update this guide on a bi-annual basis. 

Who is this guide for?  

This guide was created for any implementing partners – financial service providers (FSPs), policymakers, practitioners – who see the barrier that limited DFL poses and have an interest in improving women’s confidence in and usage of the DFS. Efforts to improve DFL cannot be one-size-fits-all if they want to speak to women’s diverse lives. This Knowledge Guide draws attention to the existing resources that can support implementing partners who are considering good practice and seek a thoughtful and nuanced view of DFL for the women's client segments they work with.  

This guide will be updated with new resources periodically.  For even more resources on this topic, visit FinEquity's Resource Library. 


These Good Practice resources look at DFL through a broad, often global lens, considering the topic from various angles including regulation, payments, and numeracy. Through toolkits, reports, and methodological approaches, these documents offer a practical overview of the topic. 

Good Practice Guidelines

Digital Financial Literacy Toolkit

Through the lens of the regulator, this guideline note narrows in on three key areas: the legal, regulatory, and policy environment; the supply/ provider side; and demand-driven design and delivery of interventions. It offers numerous case studies from different geographies and provides specific guidance to ensure that women’s DFL needs are considered and included in policy design. 

This guide is useful for policymakers looking to enshrine DFL within a National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS). 

Building Women’s Financial Capability: A Path Toward Transformation

This CFI report recognizes that women’s digital capability is an increasingly essential component of advancing financial inclusion. Through interviews with over 30 FSPs, it offers a matrix that charts the different approaches used by these organizations and identifies three categories of financial capability initiatives: classroom-based financial education; technology-led financial education; and high-touch financial capability. It notes the pros and cons of each style when it comes to fostering lasting behavior change that encourages woman’s financial capability. 

This report is useful for providers who want to understand the landscape of DFL approaches.  

Empowering Women on a Journey Towards Digital Financial Capability

This guide centers around five principles for designing digital financial capability programs – the who, what, when, where and how, demonstrating this through two case studies from Indonesia and Bangladesh. Behavioral elements such as ‘utilize hybrid channels’ and ‘prioritize learning-by-doing' are also peppered throughout the document, highlighting the importance of understanding and designing for the lived realities of users. 

This guide is useful for anyone who is in the preparation or design phase of a DFL intervention. 

Hidden constraints to digital financial inclusion: the oral-literate divide

To improve DFL, it is essential to first understand a user’s baseline capabilities – including financial numeracy. Without financial numeracy, women can become dependent on visual shortcuts (i.e., the color of banknotes) and may be limited in the size of transactions they can make. In this paper, MOVE details the challenges that users, in particular women, face as they navigate digital financial services, and the opportunities for different stakeholders to better include and empower the oral segment. 

This paper is useful for providers and practitioners researching and analyzing the baseline competencies of users ahead of design processes. 

Integrating Financial Capability into Government Cash Transfer Programs

Government-to-person (G2P) payments often come with an assumption that ‘if you build it, they will come’ and do not always take women recipient capabilities into account. This toolkit offers relevant guidance on effectively integrating financial literacy programming into G2P payment initiatives that resonate with the recipient’s reality. It also offers several relevant templates for those developing G2P design, including a needs assessment outline, repositories of existing training manuals, curricula and mass-media campaigns. 

This toolkit is useful for those looking for comprehensive instruction to design an inclusive payment initiative.

Financial Literacy and Digital Financial Inclusion: Supervisory Policy and Practice

This Toronto Centre Note details systems that regulators and supervisors can put in place to address some of the barriers to financial literacy, with a particular focus on the link between digital financial inclusion and financial literacy. It posits that DFL should focus on four key areas: digital financial products and services (DFS); digital financial risks; and consumer rights and redress procedures. 

This note is useful for regulators or supervisors (or those working with one) interested in the role that this function can play in establishing and implementing initiatives that can drive DFL.  

A Methodological Overview to Defining and Measuring “Digital” Financial Literacy

Despite growing recognition of the need for DFL, particularly for women, there is still no widely accepted definition or methodological approach for measuring financial literacy (FL), digital literacy (DL) or DFL. This academic paper uses a multidimensional lens to evaluate the different approaches being used to define, measure and analyze DFL. 

This paper is useful for researchers or practitioners interrogating what it means for DFS users to be digitally financially literate.  

These Implementation Case Studies provide insight into DFL initiatives in action. Each case study looks at a specific geographic area, taking the specifics of the environment into account as they design and launch DFL programming. 

Implementation Case Studies

Building financial resilience through financial and digital literacy in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa

Despite the rise of DFL initiatives, there has been very limited research on its impacts on financial behavior. This study uses data from seven InterMedia Financial Inclusion Insights (FII) surveys (Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda) to examine the effect of financial and digital literacy on resilience-building financial behaviors, including saving, borrowing and risk management. The findings demonstrate that a dual literacy approach is key to improving financial inclusion and resilience and that both financial and digital literacy are key factors to building inclusiveness and financial resilience.  

Tanzania - A Financial Education Toolkit Designed for Refugees and Host Communities

In 2017, the UNCDF team in Tanzania partnered with UNHCR and international and local NGOs to improve access to finance in the Nyarugusu refugee camp, with a focus on women. This program included designing and implementing a financial literacy toolkit composed of three financial and digital educational projects: a tablet-based app (Jijenge, Kwiyubaka in its Kirundi version); an SMS learning platform (Arifu); and face-to-face training modules (MicroSave). 

Onboarding Women to Mobile Money with Gamified Learning

In 2020, BRAC’s Social Innovation Lab and worked with bKash to onboard women to mobile and digital financial services in rural Bangladesh. The project aimed to incentivize women’s digital financial use by increasing their confidence at the moment of cash-in and cash-out – a key and often challenging moment when women can feel like they don’t have the skills and abilities required to try something new and are therefore hesitant to engage with the service. Using a prototyping process to test different ways to work with women DFS customers, BRAC found that group-based models were overwhelmingly preferred over other methods.   

These Curricula and Training materials take many forms – lesson plans, discussion guides, posters, audio recordings – and emphasize the multitude of ways to advance DFL and the importance of a multi-pronged approach. 

Curricula and Training Materials


Created for women working in Bangladeshi factories servicing global supply chains, the HERfinance Digital Wages Curriculum offers several 90-minute lesson plans and support materials that are designed to be used during the transition from cash to digital wages. Within this broad resource, topics including digital finance products and services, budgeting, and saving are included for workers. This set of tools takes an eco-system approach; beyond improving women’s DFL, it includes resources for factory owners looking to digitize and guidance on talking about money with family members. 

Materials included: lesson plans, factory digitization blueprint, online training videos, and posters. 

Connected Society Mobile Internet Skills Training Toolkit

Within this resource, module three centers on Mobile Money, which covers several sub-topics including registration, transfers, bill payments and safety. The toolkit offers three separate approaches – a short, awareness-raising video; an in-depth training module (45-60 minutes, broken into four topics); and a shorter ‘bite-sized’ training that leans on short, targeted conversations to improve knowledge of DFL.  

Materials include: Lesson plans (in-depth and short), posters, videos 

Mobile Technical Literacy Toolkit

MiBank, a microfinance bank in Papua New Guinea (PNG), alongside the GSMA, built these tools to improve women’s understanding and usage of mobile services, including DFS. Responding to PNG’s very low rates of literacy amongst women, these resources center around audio and visual elements. 

Materials included: lesson plans, outreach channels, posters, leaflets, stickers, and radio scripts.  

Financial Literacy 5-week Training Program

While broadly focused on financial literacy, this curriculum includes a module on mobile money. It is structured to be delivered through group discussion, with the facilitator guiding participants through a series of explanations and questions, using flip chart animations to illustrate key points in the mobile money journey.  

Hey Sister! Digital Finance Literacy Campaign

Focused on low-literacy women, the Hey Sister! project used IVR (interactive voice response) to share three 25-minute audio lessons to increase women’s ability to access and use DFS. Their resource page offers audio files in 17 different languages, and scripts in French and English. Alongside these resources, there is a replication guide to help others thoughtfully adapt this campaign for other geographies.  

Materials included: audio recordings, scripts, replication guide 


Comments on this page are moderated by FinDev Editors. We welcome comments that offer remarks and insights that are relevant to the post. Learn More

Simeon Kiptarus Nganai , Moi University. Kenya, Kenya
11 March 2023


Leave a comment