FinDev COVID-19 Update | 17 - 30 Jun 2021
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- The World Bank says the pandemic pushed 97 million people into poverty in 2020, about 20 million fewer people than it had projected earlier this year. Still, the number reflects an unprecedented increase in global poverty.
- Social assistance for poor people in urban areas has been limited during the pandemic, reaching only 16% of the poorest quintile in low-income countries, compared to 21% in rural areas, according to ODI. Because of high density and widespread informal employment and housing, urban residents are more vulnerable to economic shocks than previously thought.
- An analysis by the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion and the European Microfinance Platform offers lessons on crisis survival, based on the experience of 16 institutions in 14 countries. Managing liquidity is one of the most important things institutions can do during the crisis. Lending to reliable customers during hard times and actively seeking out new borrowers is also an important aspect of managing the impact of crises on the loan portfolio.
- As of May, about 13 percent of bank and microfinance loans in Cambodia were being restructured, compared to 11 percent last year. The national banking association remains optimistic, stating that if the government reaches its vaccination targets, the sector will be at the same level or better than last year.
- India’s finance minister announced further COVID-19 recovery measures, including an expansion of the loan guarantee program, microfinance loans for 2.5 million people, and support for the healthcare and tourism sectors.
- As of 10 June, 74 percent of the Bangladesh Central Bank MSME stimulus package, launched in April 2020, had been disbursed in loans. However, local business groups and lenders say that the package is not enough and called for more funds to be added.
- Global MFI, ASA International, reported that collections efficiency (Market Watch) worsened in India and Sri Lanka in May, but improved in Myanmar and the Philippines.
- QR code transactions in the Philippines at the end of May reached a year-on-year growth of 1,498 percent in terms of volume and 6,267 percent in terms of value, illustrating Filipinos’ shift to digital channels during the pandemic. Demand for fintech apps also grew by 68 percent in 2020.
- Despite the growth of cashless payments in Vietnam during the pandemic, cash is still popular and the proportion of cash in the total means of payments increased in the first quarter of 2021.
Some articles and knowledge resources referenced in this section are in French.
- The Bank of Uganda unveiled its first regulatory sandbox to support fintech innovation. Supervised by regulators, this type of framework allows fintechs to conduct live experiments in a controlled environment.
- 81 percent of SMEs in Nigeria are optimistic about the next 12 months, according to the Mastercard Middle East and Africa (MEA) SME Confidence Index, compared to a regional average of 74 percent. Accepting digital payment and access to credit were listed by the respondents among the top drivers of growth.
- Due to the pandemic, the Economic Community of West African States postponed the launch of the single West African currency to 2027 from it’s originally planned date of 2020-2021.
- In Zambia, a new partnership between Mastercard and the telecommunications company Zamtel will enable Zamtel’s mobile money customers to make digital payments on the Mastercard network, including e-commerce transactions.
- Most business owners in Kenya received financial support from relatives, followed by Savings and Credit Cooperative Organisations, according to the FinAcces survey conducted by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the Central Bank of Kenya and FSD Kenya. About 73 percent of the respondents did not receive direct government support.
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.
- 4.7 million people slipped from middle class and fell into vulnerability or poverty in LAC last year, according to a new report by the World Bank. Without Brazil's temporary social transfer program, the figure would be 12 million.
- Governments in LAC could save $1.1 billion by digitalizing and centralizing payments and revenue collection processes. This would help them reduce costs, increase efficiencies and foster the economic recovery of the region, says a new study by Better than Cash Alliance and the IDB.
- A survey among 2,000 entrepreneurs in 17 countries in LAC shows that those that were able to quickly adjust their products and business models, and worked closely with various actors in the entrepreneurial ecosystem during the pandemic, performed better and were more resilient.
- Peru approved a national strategy for the digitization of micro and small enterprises and launched a series of ‘how to’ guides, including one that aims to increase entrepreneurs' trust in online commerce.
- The Central Bank of Mexico warned of the risk of using virtual assets or crypto currencies, pointing to low acceptance rates and high volatility. This warning came two weeks after El Salvador became the first country in the world to pass a law making bitcoin a legal tender.
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.
- A new survey in Egypt shows that the number of workers employed by MSMEs decreased by 15 percent since the start of the pandemic, which is equivalent to 1.7 million, mostly full-time jobs.
- To support digital payments in Egypt, the digital commerce giant, Network International has pledged to waive up to $1 million in fees over a multiple-year period for eligible startups in the country.
- The World Bank has approved additional financing for Jordan in the amount of $290 million to provide cash support to poor and vulnerable households and workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The amount is part of the $1.1 billion assistance for Jordan, recently announced by the World Bank.
- The European Investment Bank announced a $425 million package to support the private sector development in Palestine. This includes a total of $102 million in lines of credit to three local banks which will be on-lent to SMEs.
- Bahraini labor fund “Tamkeen” announced that it has extended the business continuity program for institutions affected by the coronavirus pandemic for another three months, until August 2021. The funding package also includes extending salary support for taxi and bus drivers and driving instructors.
For more on the Arab world and resources in Arabic, check out the latest FinDev Update in Arabic.
Blogs & Opinion
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