The Role of Catalytic Capital in Digital Markets: Successes, Pitfalls, and Lessons Learned

Over the last ten years, catalytic capital — investment capital that is patient, risk-tolerant, concessionary, and adaptable — has played an increasingly important role in filling the gaps left by the rapidly expanding and diversifying field of impact investing and serves to attract more conventional investors to sectors with high development potential. While we do not know the volume of catalytic capital investments in inclusive finance, we know that investments in inclusive finance continue to be a top category of growth.

This report focuses on the role of catalytic capital in the digital credit industry and highlights the limitations of a framework that does not consider broader market-level consequences of such investments. The rapid growth of digital credit has resulted in an influx of investment but also created significant concerns over consumer protection, and the supervisory capacity of local regulators has failed to keep pace with the risks. The report draws lessons from how digital credit markets have evolved and highlights guardrails needed at the market level to ensure that growth is responsible, impactful, and leads to inclusive market development.

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By Jayshree Venkatesan