An estimated 2 billion adults are still without access to a bank account, but some 1.6 billion of them have access to a mobile phone. ‘Mobile money services’ show great promise to expand financial inclusion by bringing basic financial services to people that remain on the margins of society. In 2014, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation joined ITU to establish an ITU-T Focus Group on Digital Financial Services (DFS).
The financial-services and information and communication technology (ICT) sectors are converging, and the aim of the Focus Group was to bring all the key players together to build a common understanding of the route to broader financial inclusion. The Focus Group was successful to an extent that exceeded expectations. After two years of extensive consultation, the Focus Group concluded its work in early 2017 with the publication of 85 policy recommendations and 28 supporting thematic reports.
The Focus Group’s work was driven by the collaboration of more than 60 organizations from over 30 countries. Asked what made the Focus Group unique, all of the group’s participants highlighted its diversity. This was the first initiative to bring together all the actors working in the interests of financial inclusion. We opened new lines of communication to build a strong understanding of the components of the DFS ecosystem.