By Cheikh Ndaiye, Leleng Tchangai, Hermann Messan
According to the World Bank, Togo has seen a remarkable increase in its financial inclusion rate between 2014 and 2017, ahead of countries such as Côte d'Ivoire, Madagascar, Chad and Mali.
In sub-Saharan Africa, the proportion of people over the age of 15 using a formal financial service almost doubled in 2017 (from 23% in 2011 to 43% in 2017), from 18% to 45% in Togo. The survey of the demand for conducted by UNCDF in 2016 revealed than this increase is mainly due to the introduction of mobile financial services from Moov in 2013. At the same time, account usage is growing and the report published by the BCEAO in 2016 shows that Togo has the highest activity rates in WAEMU region, with introduction of innovative second generation DFS products such as mobile savings launched in May 2016 by La Poste. However, there continue to be disparities that should be acted upon to allow a broader inclusion of the population.
As part of UNCDF's Microlead’s program, the State Secretariat for Financial Inclusion held a workshop in May 2018 on the digitalization of financial services. The week-long session that was facilitated by Institut Helix was officially opened by Ms. Mazamesso ASSIH, Secretary of State to the President of the Republic, in charge of Financial Inclusion and the Informal Sector who stated the government expectation to see the digitalization of banking industry for a faster financial inclusion in Togo.
The digital finance development in Africa over the last few years shows that mobile financial services are levers for financial inclusion and all of the participants in the financial ecosystem were mostly represented by microfinance institutions, commercial banks, the central bank, mobile operators and regulators. The DFS course held in Togo focused on digital financial services for the benefit of financial inclusion in general and the benefits of agent networks. All aspects of agent network deployment were discussed, from setup to training and then payments and risks.
During the course, a key discussion focused on the lack of access of people to formal financial services, knowing that a large part of the population lives in rural areas. The participants noted that digital finance has enormous potential from the point of view of financial inclusion and access to rural services (Deposits, Withdrawals) knowing that according to the study Finscope, 80% of Togolese adults have a mobile phone and 35% of mobile money agents are within 30 minutes of rural populations.
Digitalization can help promote financial inclusion. However, it is important to develop a good "business model", which must obviously include technology, but also operational, marketing and customer experience. Financial inclusion is at our fingertips, but you have to learn to work with regulators, technology partners, and leverage agent networks. Are you ready to seize this opportunity?