13 Nov 2021

Resilient and Inclusive Financial Services Delivery During Covid-19

A survey of Financial Supervisors and Financial Services Providers in Zambia, Sierra Leone and Rwanda.

The advent of the coronavirus pandemic has had a deep impact on lives throughout our three operating countries. It has created a range of challenges which could result in greater financial exclusion for some of the most vulnerable people in society. However, it has also emphasized the importance of saving and financial inclusion for personal and business resilience. It has contributed to the development of innovative approaches to financial services, the increased adoption of digital finance, and successful behaviours and policy shifts that supervisory bodies have taken to dampen the effects of not only the pandemic but other future crises, thus promoting systemic resilience.

The present research takes advantage of the natural experiment conditions the pandemic has provided to determine guidelines for resilient financial inclusion. Comic Relief and Jersey Overseas Aid are extremely excited about the work that Toronto Centre has done, and to promote and share these findings and recommendations in the hope that they will be reviewed, built upon and adopted by organizations, financial service providers and supervisory bodies around the world.

The report draws on the lessons that main actors in Zambia, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone have learned about resilience in the times of COVID-19. It identifies key insights into how these actors have continued to expand financial inclusion and what the current risks are:

  1. The growing importance of digital financial services both in the short-term and long run as services expand;
  2. The importance of an environment that is conducive to digital inclusion for the most marginalized markets;
  3. The rising risks relating to trust and concerns around data privacy, transparency and fraud in a time when face-to-face models are more difficult to achieve;
  4. The need to enhance information gathering for effective and realistic supervision.

Though the coronavirus pandemic has presented unique challenges for financial inclusion around the globe, it is clear that it has also brought about exciting opportunities and new ways of thinking.

You can read the full report here.

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