FinDev Guide

COVID-19 FinDev Weekly Update | 10-16 April 2020

Roundup of the most relevant coronavirus-related resources for the microfinance and financial inclusion community
Fishing in India. Photo by Partha Sarathi Dalal, 2015 CGAP Photo Contest.

FinDev Gateway has created this COVID-19 weekly update with the latest and most relevant knowledge resources for financial inclusion. Below, you will find a quick summary of what FinDev editors are reading. We are also listing the most recent publications, blogs and events related to the ongoing crisis. If you have content to share in our weekly update, please submit here or contact us directly.

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Weekly summary

  • Varying lockdown measures: As lockdowns threaten to upend economies, countries are weighing the costs and benefits of reopening. Some European nations are easing restrictions, while in other parts of the world, countries are trying different approaches. In Bogota, Colombia, authorities have used a controversial gender separation to prevent people from forming groups. Others, like Nicaragua haven’t imposed any restrictions. In Africa, Malawi became the latest nation to impose a lockdown while Senegal has imposed only a dusk-to-dawn curfew. India extended its lockdown until 3 May, but relaxed restrictions on farming, banking and public works. Tensions are rising in some countries. In Tunisia, those who lost their jobs demanded financial help and an end to the lockdown, and informal vendors rallied against coronavirus lockdown in Malawi.
  • Rural livelihoods: Though rural livelihoods are at risk, according to an IFPRI analysis, agri-food sectors may be spared and even expand as food imports decline and domestic production rises. Job losses in urban areas may compel people to seek employment in agriculture; the downside of this will be lower rural incomes. To make matters worse for some, locust swarms in Uganda and Kenya pose an “alarming and unprecedented threat” to food security in the region. 
  • Social protection measures: Cash transfer programs remain the most common policy intervention according to a portal maintained by World Bank senior economist Ugo Gentili. A webinar hosted by proposes ways in which G2P Payments can be made in the COVID-19 Context.
  • Migrants and refugees are some of the most vulnerable demographics. Due to insufficient funds, World Food Programme (WFP) has cut food rations for more than 1.4 million refugees in Uganda. As borders close everywhere, refugees and migrants make dangerous journeys to reach their home. At a normally small and quiet border crossing in Myanmar, more than 30,000 people came in a single day. With such movements come fears of spreading the virus.
  • Managing pandemic misinformation is an ongoing challenge. An internet conspiracy claimed that 5G technology spreads coronavirus. This caused incidents in Britain where telecom towers were attacked. Cash has also suffered amid fears that coronavirus could be transmitted by handling cash. The risk of such infections remains low compared with other frequently touched objects, such as credit card terminals or PIN pads. Central banks have responded by urging acceptance of cash and sterilizing or quarantining banknotes at times.


  • The Bangladesh Bank has asked authorities to declare mobile financial services an emergency service. The government has also extended financial support to businesses under the condition that they would pay employee salaries through bank accounts or mobile financial services. More than half of the workers at targeted companies don’t have bank accounts.
  • In India, the two largest microfinance networks, Sa-dhan and Microfinance Institutions Network (MFIN), have urged the prime minister to extend the loan moratorium benefits to the MFI industry. LiveMint reports that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is exploring steps to aid struggling MFIs through a separate credit line. The central bank is closely examining the data received from MFIs.
  • In the Philippines, Landbank launched a new lending program to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs), microfinance institutions (MFIs), and cooperatives. 

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • The Central Bank of Kenya has barred unregulated digital lenders from providing information to credit reference bureaus, citing customer complaints. The Bank will also suspend for 6 months the listing of negative credit information for borrowers with non-performing loans since 1 April 2020.
  • Regulators are encouraging the use of digital payments. The Bank of Central African States (BEAC) announced the interoperability of Mobile Money in the CEMAC region (Gabon, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo and Equatorial Guinea). Transactions can be made directly between bank accounts, mobile money wallets and bank cards.
  • In Togo, the government is using mobile money to implement universal solidarity income.
  • In Côte d’Ivoire, awareness about use of digital payments as a tool to slow the spread of the virus is showing some results: 70 percent of electricity and water bills are paid by digital payments.
  • In Kenya, some fintechs enable customers to pay for healthcare costs remotely.
  • Digital finance and payment platform Sesacash partners with peer-to-peer cryptocurrency trading platform CryptoLocally to power crypto payments to Africa.
  • Malawi commercial banks have suspended interest and principal payments for bank loans for the next three months. The banks have also reduced by 40 percent all fees and charges on internet banking mobile payments and other related services.

Latin American and the Caribbean 

  • In Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), 13 financial regulators, members of AFI, have implemented measures.
  • A FinEquityALC webinar highlighted concerns about small microfinance that focus on women’s financial needs given their limited access to funding sources. 
  • The crisis is seen as an opportunity for governments and financial institutions to strengthen alliances with fintech to increase access through mobile wallets and/or simplified accounts.

Arab World

  • The unprecedented dual shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic and the collapse in oil prices have exacerbated the MENA region’s already slow economic growth which was due in part to lack of data transparency.
  • The Central Bank of Jordan set up a COVID-19 Response Challenge Fund to reform digital financial services and encourage use of mobile digital wallets (link in Arabic).
  • The Arab Monetary Fund published a new study (in Arabic) that shows how Arab governments have responded with stimulus packages valued to about $180 billion.
  • FMO supports Enda Tamweel with a loan valued at 60 million euros in support of women and youth from marginalized neighborhoods and borrowers from the agriculture and education sectors.
  • Abdallah Ali, Microfinance Unit, Central Bank of Sudan, wrote a piece about how the country’s microfinance sector will be affected by the pandemic.

 For more, check out the latest Arabic FinDev Weekly Update



Blogs & Opinion

If you have a blog idea and would like to write for the FinDev Blog, please see our review our guidelines. We do not cross-post blogs that have been published elsewhere, but if you wish to share an existing blog post in our next FinDev Weekly Update, you can send it to us using our contact form.


Sector Response

The Best Laid Plans...CGAP's Response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

How a Microfinance Network Has Changed Customer and Staff Engagement During COVID-19

COVID-19 Exposes Risks and Opportunities in Kenya's Gig Economy

Liquidity Before Solvency: A Guide for Microfinance Investors in the Time of COVID-19

Keeping the Patient Alive: Adapting Crisis Rubrics for a COVID World

The Economies Have Been Hit Already—We Now Need Palliatives and Ultimately Cures

Treating Staff Responsibly During the Pandemic: Three Things to Do Today

Digital Finance and Fintech

Disrupting Fintech: Four Ways Early-Stage Firms Are Adapting to Deal With the Effects of COVID-19

3 COVID-19 Digital Transformations Financial Institutions Must Act On

The Role of DFS Agents During the COVID-19 Crisis


Funding Landscape

What’s a Donor to Do? The Financial Impact of COVID-19 on the Poor


Social Protection

How Social Protection Can Help Countries Cope With COVID-19

Cash Transfers Lead the Social Assistance Response to COVID-19


Rural Agricultural Finance

Poverty and food insecurity could grow dramatically as COVID-19 spreads

The Imminent Crisis for Rural Livelihoods, Agricultural Trade, and Food Security


Recent Publications

For a complete list of publications and to learn how you can share your research with us, visit FinDev's Publications page.

COVID-19, Cash, and the Future of Payments

This note shares several experiences of central banks around the world in their effort to bolster trust in cash and guarantee universal acceptance.

G2P Payments in COVID-19 Context

This joint effort is inspired by colleagues and organizations working to discuss and disseminate the most recent content on social protection responses to COVID-19.

The Role of DFS Agents During the COVID-19 Crisis

This report looks at the on-the-ground situation for mobile money and banking agents in Kenya by using near-live data from the Caribou Data platform and MicroSave Consulting’s contacts within agent networks.

CICO Agents: The Under-Valued “First Responders”

This brief shares early evidence on the impact of COVID-19 on cash-in/cash-out agents and policy recommendations to support them.

Micro and Small Enterprises: Will the Pandemic Put an End to Their Business?

This brief shares early evidence on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on micro and small businesses and recommendations for policy measures to accelerate their recovery. 

Dignity Not Destitution

This paper lays out an ‘Economic Rescue Plan For All’ to tackle the coronavirus crisis and rebuild a more equal world.

News & Events

For the latest news and events - hosted by organizations worldwide - exploring the impact of coronavirus on financial inclusion, visit our News and Events listing pages.

Quick Links:
-  FinDev COVID-19 Resource Hub for Microfinance and Financial Inclusion 
CGAP Collection: COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Insights for Inclusive Finance
-  FinEquity: Women's Financial Resiliency as it Relates to COVID-19
-  Weekly Updates
-  FinDev's regional platforms offering resources in SpanishFrench, and Arabic.

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