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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

UPU to launch technical assistance program in digital financial inclusion

 11.10.2016 - The Universal Postal Union has been awarded a 1.85 million USD grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to provide technical assistance to Posts interested in developing digital financial services (DFS) for low-income populations.
With one of the largest physical networks in the world, the Post could play a role in fostering global financial inclusion

Under the new initiative, the UPU will set up a facility to help Posts access technical assistance in developing their DFS. Over the next four years, the UPU expects that 20 Posts will have benefited from this program, thereby securing access to affordable and convenient financial services for millions of people. 

According to the World Bank’s Global Findex, two billion people globally are financially excluded or, in other words, they have no access to formal financial services. Yet an increasing body of evidence suggests that access to various financial tools such as savings, insurance, or credit can help low income people seize new opportunities to move out of poverty or absorb shocks – such as illness, accident, or natural disaster – without falling further into poverty. The advent of DFS, financial services offered through digital platforms such as mobile phones, cards or the internet, has given hope that low-income and vulnerable populations can be provided with basic financial services at an affordable price. 

The recently published Global Panorama on Postal Financial Inclusion shows that 91 per cent of Posts worldwide offer some form of financial services, with most of them already on the path to digitization. But further work is needed to ensure that financial services offered through postal networks are fully digitized. For example, only 58 postal operators worldwide offer financial services through a mobile platform – either on their own or in partnership with banks, mobile network operators, or Fintechs – meaning that there is still much development potential.
UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein commended the foundation’s support, stating that Posts are ideally positioned to deliver financial inclusion to the unbanked. “This project will go a long way in supporting our vision to enable all citizens of the world to participate in social and economic development through the Post,” Hussein said. 

The initiative was announced at the occasion of the 26th Universal Postal Congress, which took place from 20 September to 7 October in Istanbul, Turkey. 

More on postal financial inclusion:

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