FinDev Guide

FinDev COVID-19 Update | 20 May - 02 Jun 2021

Roundup of the most relevant coronavirus-related resources for the microfinance and financial inclusion community
Fishermen in the river. Photo by Deba Prasad Roy, 2016 CGAP Photo Contest.

FinDev Gateway has created this COVID-19 Update with the latest and most relevant knowledge resources for financial inclusion. Sign up here if you'd like to get this update delivered to your inbox. 

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Global Update

  • In a recent analysis, researchers at University of St. Gallen in Switzerland found that increased usage of contactless payment methods does not reduce the demand for cash. The analysis focused on bank account data of 30,000 customers of a Swiss retail bank, which showed that cards tend to be used for small-value transactions, making their impact on the overall payment volume insignificant.  
  • According to the Bank of International Settlements (BIS), increasing digitization may lead to a “radical departure from the traditional model of monetary exchange.” New “Digital Currency Areas” may emerge, linking the currency to usage of a particular digital network rather than to a specific country. This has important implications for central bank independence, data ownership regulation and the treatment of private money. 



  • In India, the second wave of COVID-19 infections has caused collection efficiency to go down starting in April, after improving steadily through March 2021. During the second week of May, recovery collection dropped to 65 percent
  • The National Bank of Cambodia has extended debt relief measures, including loan restructuring and a reduced reserve requirement ratio, until the end of 2021.
  • 10 million people in the Philippines have now registered their biometric information for the new national ID. The Philippines identification system has partnered with the Land Bank of the Philippines to be able to open bank accounts for registrants immediately after completing their biometric registration.
  • Filipino mobile wallet GCash has almost doubled in users over the last year, reaching 40 million customers. The company recently launched several new financial services aimed at low-income users, including affordable medical insurance, a no-minimum-balance savings account, credit lines and an upcoming remittance service.
  • South Korea has revised its Microfinance Support Act to require more types of financial institutions to contribute to a pool of microfinance funds for household lending managed by the Korea Inclusive Finance Agency.



Some articles and knowledge resources referenced in this section are in French.

  • E-commerce is booming in Africa, driven by a high demand for online shopping due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a new IFC study, closing the gender gap in sales performance on e-commerce platforms could lead to nearly $15 billion added to the African market by 2030.  
  • The pandemic has led to a 7 percent reduction in working hours in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2020, according to the latest report from the International Labour Organization. Women and young people are disproportionately affected.   
  • West African startups raised $232 million in the first quarter of 2021, up from $62 million at the end of 2020, according to a report from Baobab Insight. $170 million of the total went to a single company, the Nigerian fintech Flutterwave, which provides payment solutions for businesses. Fintech was one of the most popular industries with investors in the region. 
  • The Central Bank of Nigeria has announced the reopening of its loan facility for SMEs and households affected by COVID-19. The funds will be disbursed through NIRSAL Microfinance Bank.

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.

For more on LAC, check out the latest Portal FinDev Biweekly Update in Spanish.


Arab World

Some articles and knowledge resources referenced in this section are in French and Arabic.

  • Government measures aimed at reducing unemployment rates in Oman have led to an increase in the number of new MSMEs in the country. 
  • Two thirds of very small and medium-sized enterprises in Morocco reported a drop of more than 15 percent in revenue in the first half of 2020. This was followed by a loss of 430,000 jobs at the end of 2020, according to a recent study analyzing the pandemic's impact on the country.
  • The UAE is planning to launch FinTech Megathon 2021, a fintech innovation program with the theme of “reimagining the future of inclusive financial services.” The initiative will feature workshops, training sessions and two hackathons, with the aim of promoting innovation and public-private collaboration.
  • Saudi Arabia-based Tamara, a buy-now-pay-later company, raised $110 million in early-stage venture capital funding in April. Tamara has a network of over 1,000 merchants and aims to expand to every Gulf Cooperation Council market, capitalizing on the growing need for such services after more than a year of COVID-19.

For more on the Arab world and resources in Arabic, check out the latest FinDev Update in Arabic.

COVID-19 Resources

“Covid-19” image by Prachatai. Used with permission.

COVID-19 Resource Hub

A collective space for the financial inclusion community to share experiences and lessons learned from the pandemic

FinDev Guide to Data - Tracking the Global Response to COVID-19

FinDev Coronavirus Data Tracker

Data relevant for financial inclusion - find out who is tracking what

Photo by Thao Vu Xuan, 2016 CGAP Photo Contest

COVID-19 Insights for Inclusive Finance

Collection of recent CGAP blogs and publications


Blogs & Opinion

If you have a blog idea and would like to write for the FinDev Blog, pleasereview 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 COVID-19 Update, you can send it to us using our contact form.

Financial Knowledge, Skills, Attitude & Behavior in a Pandemic

How Did COVID-19 Affect the Incomes of Migrants and Low-Wage Workers in India?

Divergent Recoveries From COVID-19 in Africa Require Intentional Action

Contactless Cards Do Not (Yet) Reduce Cash Demand


Recent Publications

Do you have a publication to add to this list? Share your work on FinDev Gateway.

Weathering the Storm II: Tales of Survival From Microfinance Crises Past

Growth Pangs of the Pandemic, Revisited

Beyond the Barriers of Affordability: An Analysis of India’s Cooking Fuel Support Program Under the COVID-19 Assistance Package


View All Publications Related to COVID-19 >

Upcoming Webinars


COVID-19 Surveys: Better Understanding the Impact on MFIs and Their Clients to Better Act

COVID-19: Accelerating the Use of Digital Agriculture


View All Upcoming Events Related to COVID-19 >

View All Webinar Recordings>



COVID-19 Loans for MSMEs Reach PHP 4.3 Billion

Sao Tome and Principe: World Bank Boosts Improvements in the Banking System, Access to Finance



View All News Related to COVID-19 >

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