Back to How We Help Clients

Financial Inclusion

We work to accelerate the pace of financial inclusion to improve people’s livelihoods and support the growth of sustainable new businesses.

Half the world is unbanked: two billion adults are excluded from formal financial services. Lacking access to payments, savings, credit, and insurance products, they are profoundly vulnerable to job losses, failed harvests, and other shocks. The availability of sound, affordable, and accessible financial services would enable them to guard against risk, protect their families, and invest in their future.

What we do

We draw on deep expertise in banking, telecommunications, retail, and other industries to support clients in extending affordable, high-quality financial services to lower-income households and businesses. Working with leaders across the public, private, and social sectors, we help design and launch payments, savings, loans, and insurance products and services that enhance people's well being and are economically sustainable over the long term.

In addition to our client work, we commit extensive resources to building knowledge and shaping the global debate on financial inclusion. Our reports Counting the world’s unbanked and Two trillion and counting were the first to estimate, respectively, the size of the unbanked population and the credit gap for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries. In other research projects, we have explored the expansion of electronic government payments, the potential of mobile, and the role of advanced analytics in financial inclusion.

How we work

Progress toward financial inclusion depends on innovations in technology, regulation, and business models. Our global networks and decades of consulting experience enable us to accelerate the pace of change by facilitating cross-sector collaborations between international conveners, governments, foundations, investors, and businesses. We help these high-level partnerships analyze customer needs, understand economic and regulatory barriers, align stakeholder interests, develop solutions, reach hard-to-serve communities, and deliver tangible impact.

In our private-sector projects, we work on the ground with banks, mobile phone operators, and technology providers to design economically sustainable business models capable of quickly reaching scale and achieving global impact. We support clients in developing customers’ knowledge and skills to help them make sound decisions and take control of their financial lives.

Examples of our work

In the past five years we have undertaken more than 100 client projects in this field, ranging from advising governments on national strategies for financial inclusion to helping a company develop savings and insurance products for its unbanked sales consultants. Recent examples include:

  • supporting the creation of a financial inclusion lab in East Africa that carries out R&D activities and incubation support to promote disruptive financial product development at scale
  • developing an advanced analytics technique to lower the cost of providing microloans and microinsurance products by 15–30 percent
  • using innovative data sources to help a bank and a leading mass retailer in Latin America provide affordable credit to customers without a credit banking history
  • co-developing a system to help Ethiopia's rural poor manage their expenses, save for the future, and escape from dependence, enabling more than a million people to set up new savings accounts by 2016
  • helping a US life insurer meet the financial services needs of underserved low- and middle-income customers by developing an innovative pre-paid card platform and non-branch distribution network

Featured experts

Alberto Chaia

Senior Partner, Mexico City

Paul Jenkins

Senior Partner, Oslo

Renny Thomas

Senior Partner, Mumbai

RELATED INSIGHTS

Interview

Capturing Southeast Asia’s financial-system opportunity

– The vast majority of the region’s transactions are in cash, and few people have bank accounts. That presents an opportunity,... says Matthew Driver, MasterCard’s group executive, global products and solutions, Asia–Pacific.
Article

Mobile money: Getting to scale in emerging markets

– The biggest barriers arise from misperceptions and poor execution. Providers can do better.