Women's World Banking Blog

Digital Financial Services

Explore the latest global and regional insights from Women’s World Banking’s work in policy, leadership, women’s entrepreneurship, gender lens investing, and more.

Latest Posts

Research & Perspectives

Algorithmic Bias, Financial Inclusion, and Gender

By Sonja Kelly, Director of Research and Advocacy, and Mehrdad Mirpourian, Senior Data Analyst The discussion around artificial intelligence (AI) as a driving force for the economy and society has become increasingly popular, as evidenced by more than two dozen AI-focused sessions at the 2024 World Economic Forum in Davos.

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Research & Perspectives

Report: Reaching Financial Equality for Women (2023 Edition)

Scroll down to download the report. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the largest reverse in poverty since the Second World War. The UN estimates that at least 388 million women and girls were living in extreme poverty in 2022. Climate shocks are increasing in frequency, with disproportionate impacts on women.

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Products & Solutions

Digital Financial Services: Account Activation Toolkit

Digital financial services (DFS) are rapidly becoming a transformative force in driving financial inclusion and economic growth and empowerment. Low-income women often face specific challenges in accessing financial services, which hinders their economic empowerment. By enabling women’s participation in DFS, we address gender inequality, promote economic participation and bolster overall

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Southeast Asian woman using financial services on her smartphone, highlighting the importance of inclusive fintechs
General

Bridging the Gender Gap: How Fintechs Drive Financial Inclusion

Fintech companies are reshaping the way we interact with money and financial services, and their impact goes beyond just convenience and efficiency. A fintech, or financial technology company, is an innovative organization that leverages digital technology to provide a wide range of financial services, including digital banking, mobile payments and

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A woman entrepreneur using digital financial services, showing the use case for financial inclusion
General

From Exclusion to Empowerment: The Meaning of Financial Inclusion

“Although three-quarters of a billion women are still excluded from the formal financial system, we remain steadfast in the mission to usher in universal financial inclusion to unlock the potential of women worldwide.” – Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President and CEO of Women’s World Banking What is Financial Inclusion? Our world

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Products & Solutions

#ItsHerEconomyToo Interview Series: How One Indian Fintech Company is Advancing Women’s Digital Equity

In this series we dive into the work happening around the world with Women’s Digital Financial Inclusion Advocacy Hub partners, and explore how they are driving women’s digital financial inclusion. As evidenced by this year’s Global Findex Report, digital financial inclusion isn’t just an urgent moral imperative, but an economic one

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Research & Perspectives

Global Findex 2021: Women’s World Banking Response

Six Insights from the 2021 World Bank Global Findex Data  By Sonja Kelly, Director of Research & Advocacy For those of us in the financial inclusion world, the release of the Global Findex is a pivotal moment. The data are typically compiled every three years – this time, due to Covid,

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Event

Women’s World Banking Announces Fintech Innovation Challenge Winners

Third annual global fintech competition celebrates trail-blazing solutions for women’s financial inclusion NEW YORK, NY, October 12, 2021 — Women’s World Banking announced today Boost Capital and People’s Pension Trust as the winners of its Third Annual Fintech Innovation Challenge, part of the organization’s Making Finance Work for Women Thought

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Products & Solutions

Accelerating Adoption of Digital Financial Services: Replicating a digital account usage solution for factory workers in Cambodia

By Whitney Mapes, Elwyn Panggabean For low-income women worldwide, digital financial services can act as a stepping stone to greater financial inclusion, yet barriers to activating usage have prevented women from realizing their full benefits. Among the many obstacles women face to using digital financial services are a lack of

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Research & Perspectives

UNCDF’s Inclusive Digital Economies and Gender Equality Playbook

The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) has recently launched the Inclusive Digital Economies and Gender Equality Playbook. This playbook is a practical how-to guide on leveraging the market system development approach to decrease the digital and financial divide for women and girls, use technology to improve women’s economic opportunities,

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Research & Perspectives

Help Wanted: A Global Push Toward Algorithmic Fairness

A Q & A with Sonja Kelly of Women’s World Banking and Alex Rizzi of CFI, building on Women’s World Banking’s report and CFI’s report on algorithmic bias It seems conversations around biased AI have been around for some time. Is it too late to address this? Alex: It’s just

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Research & Perspectives

Leveraging Digital Financial Capability to Drive Women’s Financial Inclusion

By Marina Dimova, Managing Director of Design and Innovation, Women’s World Banking and Julia Arnold, Senior Research Director, Women’s Financial Inclusion, Center for Financial Inclusion Informed and empowered men and women make fewer risky financial decisions than those with less knowledge. And for a low-income woman, having the right knowledge

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Research & Perspectives

Report: Building Capacity for Client-Centered Cash Assistance

In May 2020, Women’s World Banking conducted its first remote research during the Covid-19 pandemic with 44 beneficiaries, PKH facilitators, and bank agents across 11 districts of Indonesia. The research reveals that further efforts are needed to ensure beneficiaries have critical information about the program to support their financial planning and

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Research & Perspectives

Report: From Cash to Digital Wage Payments in the Philippines

With support from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and in partnership with the International Labour Organization, Women’s World Banking assessed the awareness, use, and acceptance of digital wage payments among enterprises and workers in the Philippines. The Philippines’ thriving digital economy and proliferation of new digital solutions,

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Research & Perspectives

Reaching Financial Equality for Women: A 10-point action plan

The impact of COVID-19 has hit women and girls hard. The World Bank reports that 2021 will bring the first increase in extreme poverty since 1998, with a minimum of 71 million people expected to fall into destitution, and UN Women estimates that at least 47 million more women and girls will fall below the

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Research & Perspectives

Report: Empowering Women on a Journey Towards Digital Financial Capability

Financial inclusion is becoming more and more digital. To accelerate this journey to digitization, and not let women customers be left even further behind, we need to ensure policymakers and financial service providers focus on effectively supporting women customers build their digital financial capabilities, so they can use digital financial services with ease and confidence.  This report

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Research & Perspectives

Report: Algorithmic Bias, Financial Inclusion, and Gender: A primer on opening up new credit to women in emerging economies

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are changing financial services offerings to customers across the globe. Historically, women have been the victims of unconscious bias in lending decisions. Algorithm-enabled credit decisions have the potential to create a level playing field for female customers worldwide—but only if we find and mitigate biases

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Research & Perspectives

Can Data Predict the Future of Women’s Economic Empowerment?

By Sonja Kelly, Director of Research and Advocacy, and Mehrdad Mirpourian, Senior Data Analyst Women’s World Banking is starting on a journey to find out if data can predict the future of women’s economic empowerment—and we’d like you to follow along. The task is daunting, even for a team of

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Research & Perspectives

New evidence on how to empower women-owned businesses in Kenya

By Sonja Kelly, Director of Research and Advocacy, Women’s World Banking One of the most elusive questions in financial inclusion is how to facilitate growth of small businesses—and particularly of women-owned businesses. With this question in mind, in 2016 Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) and Women’s World Banking set out on

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Research & Perspectives

Sexist AI? What to do about gender-based algorithmic bias in the financial sector

By Sonja Kelly, Director of Research and Advocacy, Women’s World Banking Bias happens. It is widely discussed across the world as different industries use machine learning and artificial intelligence to increase efficiency in their processes. I’m sure you’ve seen the headlines. Amazon’s hiring algorithm systematically screened out women candidates. Microsoft’s

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Research & Perspectives

Women’s Economic Empowerment is the Doorway to Economic Recovery and Growth Post-COVID-19; Fintechs are the Key

This is cross-posted from DC Fintech Week where our President and CEO Mary Ellen Iskenderian spoke on the panel “Building Equity into Start-Ups: Lessons from Women in Fintech.” We also want to congratulate our winners from our Making Finance Work for Women Fintech Innovation Challenge 2020 winners, Tyme and myAgro! Co-Authors: Mary Ellen Iskenderian,

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Research & Perspectives

Digital Cash Transfers in Times of COVID-19: Opportunities and Considerations for Women’s Inclusion and Empowerment

Women’s economic empowerment will be essential for a global economic recovery. Given pre-existing gender gaps, there are concerns about exclusion for many of the social assistance programs already being rolled out around the world. Social protection systems that ignore gender inequality will likely fail to mitigate the risks of COVID-19

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Research & Perspectives

Covid-19, Low Income Finance and Nine Takeaways from a Quick Survey

By Mehrdad (Mehi) Mirpourian, Senior Data Analyst, Research, Monitoring and Evaluation, at Women’s World Banking  “There have been as many plagues as wars in history; yet always plagues and wars take people equally by surprise.” – Albert Camus, The Plague Introduction Businesses function in environments that are agile and hard

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Research & Perspectives

Going Digital for Loan Disbursements and Repayments: A Smart Move in the Time of Covid-19

By Marina Dimova, Managing Director of Design and Innovation and Diana Boncheva Gooley, Manager of Digital Financial Services, Women’s World Banking The Covid-19 global pandemic has heightened the strategic importance of integrating digital channels into how financial services providers engage with customers. How can financial services providers respond to the

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Products & Solutions

Building Digital Capacity for Women in Bangladesh

Project overview: Women’s World Banking partnered with Dutch Bangla Bank Limited (DBBL) in Bangladesh with generous support from the MetLife foundation to understand why women are not engaging with digital financial services. Specifically, we looked at DBBL’s Rocket mobile wallet account usage. This work with DBBL will not only help

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WWB News

devex | Facebook’s digital currency Libra: Why nonprofits are joining

SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook, together with 27 partners ranging from Visa to Mercy Corps, has unveiled a new global currency built on blockchain. The company has been working on Libra for more than a year, but it is distancing itself from directly managing the cryptocurrency. Facebook created Calibra, the digital wallet that will store

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Products & Solutions

Making Mobile Money Work for Women

With a growing gender gap in financial inclusion in Bangladesh, it is imperative to understand the behavioral barriers women face when engaging with digital financial services.

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WWB News

PRESS RELEASE | JazzCash and Women’s World Banking announce partnership to serve low-income women in Pakistan

JazzCash, Pakistan’s premiere financial services provider and global nonprofit Women’s World Banking announce a partnership to promote women’s financial inclusion across Pakistan. With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the partners will work to increase low-income women’s adoption and use of digital financial services, particularly the JazzCash mobile account.

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Products & Solutions

CNBC Africa | Why Africa Needs Mobile Banking

Martha Oluwatobi is the proud owner of a market stall in Lagos, Nigeria. She sells minerals used for health benefits by expectant mothers who routinely buy small amounts of clay-like ingredients a few times a week.

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WWB News

PRESS RELEASE | New savings account brings mobile financial access to rural women and communities in Malawi

Rural women in Malawi provide significant earning power within their families but so many of them have no access to a safe place to save their money. Through a new innovative mobile savings account, Malawi’s NBS Bank Ltd. is working with global nonprofit Women’s World Banking to bring banking to the doorsteps of local low-income communities and families.

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Research & Perspectives

Have banks lost to mobile money in Tanzania?

Mobile money is gaining momentum in Tanzania. Would other financial services be able to catch up? Women’s World Banking visited Tanzania in October 2013 to conduct industry and customer research to understand what opportunities exist for mobile banking in Tanzania.

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Products & Solutions

Diamond Bank Storms the Market: A BETA Way to Save

In 2012, an estimated 64 percent of Nigerians were unbanked and had never accessed any formal financial services or products, a number that is higher for women: nearly 73 percent of all Nigerian women are unbanked. This number does not include figures for the underbanked—men and women who have had

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Products & Solutions

CGAP | CGAP blogs about our work in Nigeria

Antonique Koning, a microfinance specialist at CGAP, blogged about our work on promoting financial inclusion for low-income women in Nigeria through the use of savings products and innovative outreach and delivery strategies.

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WWB News

World Jurist Association 2012 Conference: “Law and Technology: Innovation in the Digital Age”

Keynote Speech: Women’s World Banking and the Role of Innovation and New Technologies in Increasing Women’s and Girl’s, Economic Security

The World Jurist Association has the pleasure to invite you to join our members and other legal professionals from around the world at our DC 2012 conference!  Law and Technology: Innovation in the Digital Age, to be held on April 22-24, 2012 in Washington, DC USA.

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WWB News

Microlumbia 5th Annual Microfinance Conference: “Redefining Microfinance: Driving Innovation in a Maturing Market”

Microlumbia Fund is a 501(c)3 organization run by Columbia Business School (CBS) students that provides growing microfinance institutions with pro-bono consulting services and debt capital while stimulating interest in the field among a new generation of future business leaders. Our mission is to help alleviate global poverty by providing the CBS community the means and opportunities to become lifelong contributors to the field of microfinance. For CBS students, we offer education, investment management and consulting opportunities.

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