FinDev COVID-19 Update | 06 - 19 May 2021
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- Digital transformation has become an increasingly urgent priority for IFC’s financial institution (FI) clients in 65 emerging markets as a result of the global pandemic. Results from a survey conducted in October 2020 show that IFC’s FI clients had lower levels of loan collections and disbursements compared to before the pandemic and were starting to see significant increases in non-performing loans.
- The coronavirus pandemic has forced MSMEs to look at new opportunities for business globally, according to a 10-country survey of over 5,000 consumers and 1,500 MSME representatives, commissioned by Mastercard. Businesses are using more international suppliers compared to 12 months ago and they are involved in more cross-border payments overall.
- Remittance flows have proven resilient during the COVID-19 crisis, primarily due to migrants’ commitment to helping their families and willingness to reduce consumption or draw from savings in order to do so. According to a new report by KNOMAD, a global partnership on migration and development, other factors contributing to the increase in formal remittance flows include a greater reliance on digital channels due to travel bans and fiscal stimulus measures in host countries.
- India’s central bank has amended its guidelines on know-your-customer (KYC) procedures to allow for expanded use of video-based customer identification.
- Indian fintechs are supporting the country’s vaccination campaign. BharatPe will provide a Rs 300 (~$4.11) cashback incentive for merchants who scan their COVID-19 vaccination card into the app. The company also launched a COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker to help its six million merchant partners locate and schedule vaccine appointments. Similarly, RapiPay has added a vaccination scheduling tool to its app, which will allow its over 200,000 agents to help customers register for vaccine appointments.
- Garment workers in Cambodia are struggling to pay back microfinance loans after going weeks without pay due to a strict lockdown which closed factories.
- The Philippines is seeing a push for universal bank access with the introduction of the bill, “One Filipino, One Bank Account” which would open a bank account or virtual wallet for every Filipino, with electronic payments being emphasized due to the pandemic.
- In Pakistan, financial inclusion increased from 21 to 25 percent during the pandemic, driven completely by mobile money adoption.
Some articles and knowledge resources referenced in this section are in French.
- The Government of Lesotho plans to create a national registry of MSMEs after facing challenges identifying and registering vulnerable MSMEs to provide cash relief at the peak of the pandemic. The government is also considering deploying funding tools that would send financial assistance automatically to fragile MSMEs in case of future economic shocks.
- Overall remittances to Sub-Saharan Africa - excluding Nigeria, which is the biggest recipient of remittances in the region - increased by 2 percent, according to the latest report from the World Bank. The strongest remittance growths were registered in Zambia (37 percent), Mozambique (16 percent) and Kenya (9 percent). Nigeria suffered a 28 percent decline in remittances in 2020.
- Fintech funding in Africa grew to $1.35 billion in 2020 from $1 billion in 2019 despite the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report by BFA Global’s Catalyst Fund and Briter Bridges. Rising smartphone ownership and a decrease of internet costs have contributed to this increase.
- Despite suffering disruptions at the start of the pandemic, major telecom companies are using mobile money as a way to bounce back. Airtel Africa reported a 39 percent growth of mobile money revenues in the first quarter of 2021. Safaricom reported a 14 percent year-on-year increase in monthly active customers, but overall posted a 2 percent loss of M-Pesa revenue as fees were waived to cushion the impact of the pandemic.
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.
- Argentina will start taxing enterprise digital accounts the same way it does for checking accounts held with banks. The fintech sector fears the new measure will set back recent growth in digital payments and will encourage cash payments in the country.
- 81 percent of Peruvians said they would buy more from small businesses if they offered additional payment options such as contactless payments, digital money transfers, digital wallets and QR codes.
- The Colombian cash transfer program “Ingreso Solidario” implemented during the pandemic has encouraged people to open new bank accounts and use them to make payments, says a new IDB study.
- Contrary to expectations, movable collateral as an alternative loan guarantee has not increased access to finance for women-owned SMEs in Mexico, says a new study by Women’s World Banking. Improving the usability of Mexico's Unique Registry of Guarantees (RUG) and reducing registration inefficiencies could enable women to rely on movable collateral better to access loans.
- Mastercard and IDB, in collaboration with the Common Cents Lab at Duke University and Mercado Libre - Latin America’s largest digital platform, have launched a program to study user behavior within digital platforms. The study will focus on the impact of user notifications about profits, savings, and insurance on financial resilience of entrepreneurs and gig workers.
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 French and Arabic.
- The United Nations and the Islamic Development Bank have launched an initiative called the International Dialogue on the Role of Islamic Social Financing in Achieving the SDGs to explore how Islamic social financing can support pandemic response and recovery as well as the sustainable development goals.
- Egypt's microfinance portfolio grew to about $3 billion and reached 4 million customers in December 2020, marking a significant growth in the country's microfinance sector, compared to 2 million customers in 2016.
- 47 percent of Sudanese households, both rural and urban, reported being worried about food security, and many modified their eating habits because of the COVID-19 health crisis, according to a World Bank survey of over 4,000 households.
- The United Arab Emirates was the second largest source of remittances globally in 2020, followed by Saudi Arabia in third, and topped only by the U.S., according to a new report from the World Bank. Foreign workers in the UAE sent home $43 billion and those in Saudi Arabia transferred $35 billion.
For more on the Arab world and resources in Arabic, check out the latest FinDev Update in Arabic.
Blogs & Opinion
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