FinDev COVID-19 Update | 14 - 27 Jan 2021
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- A new study covering more than 120,000 firms in 60 countries highlights a range of policies countries have adopted to support businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. It shows that policy reach has been limited and identifies mismatches between the types of policies provided and policies most sought by businesses. For example, in lower-middle-income countries, tax support was the main policy offered, but access to credit was the most preferred policy by businesses.
- Women’s economic participation is not always accompanied by broader women’s empowerment, according to a new study by researchers at the International Food Policy Institute and the University of California, Berkeley. When primed to feel relatively poor, both women and men were more likely to support women’s engagement in paid employment, although men’s support for women’s participation in decision-making did not increase.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the gendered nature of financial markets, which leads to vastly different outcomes for women and men. FinEquity’s new learning agenda promotes, among other things, a better understanding of gendered social norms and how they shape women’s financial inclusion and livelihood opportunities.
- In a new report, Oxfam says that it could take more than a decade for the world’s poorest to recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic; 87 percent of nearly 300 economists that were surveyed globally expect income inequality to increase in their country as a result of the pandemic. Women and marginalized racial and ethnic groups are among those impacted the most.
- The Bank for International Settlements says cyber risk is growing in importance as the financial system becomes more digitized. Since the pandemic started, the financial sector has experienced more frequent cyber attacks than most other sectors; payment firms, insurers and credit unions have been especially affected.
- Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI), has launched an artificial intelligence platform called BRIBrain that will enable the bank to speed up its loan approval process from two weeks to two minutes. The bank hopes that the platform will make it easier to support MSMEs affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- As the COVID-19 crisis put a strain on many households’ finances, the option to buy now, pay later (BNPL) has become increasingly popular in Singapore and the surrounding region, with fintech platforms helping merchants and customers access this option.
- The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority announced its plans to accelerate the development of the country’s 5G services due to the growth in the digital economy during the pandemic.
- UNCDF has launched the Women Enterprise Recovery Fund to support women entrepreneurs economically impacted by COVID-19 in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, and Vietnam. Applications will be accepted until 15 Feb 2021.
- Mastercard launched the Digital Acceleration for Small Businesses microsite across Asia and the Pacific to help SMEs in the region adapt to the changes brought about by the pandemic through digital transformation.
- Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and Avanti Finance, a digital financial inclusion platform, have partnered to provide affordable loans to microentrepreneurs affected by the pandemic in India.
- CARD MRI, an MFI from the Philippines, supported their clients’ recovery by maintaining close communication with them to learn about their needs and using that information to design new services such as a mobile market app for agricultural produce, online access to healthcare advice and marketing support for their businesses.
Some articles and knowledge resources referenced in this section are in French.
- According to the Central Bank of Kenya, mobile money has benefited greatly from the COVID-19 crisis at the expense of credit cards. Mobile money transactions grew by 160 percent between 2019 and 2020 (comparing the periods from January to November), while bank card transactions declined by 17 percent over the same period.
- A survey conducted by the World Bank in Somalia in June and July 2020 shows how microenterprises, the most common type of formal firms in Somalia, appear to have been less affected by COVID-19 than larger firms in terms of employment and operations disruptions. However, 90 percent of all types of firms reported cash flow and liquidity challenges.
- The National Bank of Malawi has launched an insurance premium financing service which pays annual business and auto insurance premiums on behalf of its clients, who then receive a loan with a monthly repayment schedule. The initiative aims to preserve customers’ cash flows, which have been strained due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- 64 percent of Kenyan farmers interviewed by 60 Decibels had to use their savings to cope with the pandemic, while 39 percent borrowed money and 23 percent sold an asset. According to an MSC report, 90 percent of Kenyan farmers reported a decline in their household incomes since the onset of the pandemic.
- The Mastercard Economic Institute’s annual report estimates that 20 to 30 percent of the pandemic-related shift to e-commerce will remain even after restrictions are lifted, with online banking solutions becoming essential for creating growth.
For more on Africa, check out the latest Portail FinDev Biweekly Update in French.
Latin America and the Caribbean
Most articles and knowledge resources referenced in this section are in Spanish.
- Latin America and the Caribbean lost an equivalent of 39 million full-time jobs in 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). Among the most affected are young people and women, who often work in the informal economy. The region is expected to lose an equivalent of 6 to 19 million full-time jobs in 2021.
- 13,000 micro and small enterprises in Peru will benefit from the first COVID-19 bond issued by COFIDE, the Peruvian Development Bank. The funds collected with this bond aim to provide financial support to micro and small enterprises, one of the segments most affected by the current economic crisis.
- In Colombia, the bank association Asobancaria predicts that the sector’s loan portfolio deterioration due to the pandemic will reach a peak in June 2021, and that the microcredit segment will be hit the hardest, with 24.7 percent of its loan portfolio at risk by the middle of the year and 17.7 percent by the end of 2021.
- Ecuadorian microfinance network ASOMIF announced that the microfinance sector’s profits had declined by 91 percent as of November 2020 as some microentrepreneurs were unable to repay loans and MFIs required higher provisions to anticipate future losses.
- Remittance inflows to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras continue to grow despite projected declines due to COVID-19, ending the year with an annual growth of 7.9 percent, 4.8 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively. Many Central American immigrants in the U.S. benefited from the country’s fiscal and unemployment relief packages upon losing their jobs, and were able to keep sending remittances to their home countries.
For more on LAC, check out the latest Portal FinDev Biweekly Update in Spanish.
Some articles and knowledge resources referenced in this section are in Arabic.
- The European Investment Bank and JAIDA, a financing fund for MFIs, have reached a loan agreement for over $12 million to extend financing for microentrepreneurs in Morocco during the COVID-19 crisis.
- Egypt plans to leverage its access to long-term, affordable development financing to support private sector engagement in non-oil commercial activity as the country recovers from the economic impacts of COVID-19.
- The Islamic Foundation for the Development of the Private Sector, part of the Islamic Development Bank Group, announced a stimulus package worth $250 million to help small and medium-sized enterprises confront the COVID-19 crisis.
- The U.S. has designated the Houthi movement, which controls the most populous areas of war-torn Yemen, as a foreign terrorist organization. Yemenis worry that this designation could further isolate them from the global financial system, depriving them of vital remittances amid the COVID-19 pandemic and pushing the country into famine as 80 percent of the population relies on aid.
For more on the Arab world and resources in Arabic, check out the latest FinDev Update in Arabic.
Blogs & Opinion
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Women’s Financial Inclusion
New Information Hub
World Bank - G2PX: Digitizing Government-to-Person Payments
Country briefs on COVID-19 G2P cash-transfer payments.
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