Paper

A Sense of Inclusion: An Ethnographic Study of the Perceptions and Attitudes to Digital Financial Services in Sub-Saharan Africa

Exploring cultural and socioeconomic drivers and barriers to uptake

This comparative ethnographic study explores the usage, perceptions and attitudes towards digital financial services (DFS) in four countries in Sub-Saharan Africa: Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal and Zambia. The countries were chosen to encompass both anglophone and francophone markets at the early stages of DFS development.

The research aims to gain a better understanding of the African DFS user and capture a sense of the deeper fabric of the emerging market, exploring the cultural and socio-economic market context for DFS in Sub-Saharan Africa, and how factors such as peoples’ ideas of money, monetary relations within families and other networks, trust, and financial status may influence the decisions consumers make.

An ethnographic approach to market research brings out the voice of the individuals in a detailed and nuanced way, capturing and analyzing the anecdotal in a systematic fashion. This report thus aims to bring forth the voice of the DFS users and non-users in the study markets. It is a descriptive rather than prescriptive endeavor, aiming foremost to offer readers an idea of how DFS is viewed on the ground and a framework for looking at the potential of DFS for financial inclusion through the lens of the African consumer.