Since Kenya’s M-Pesa invented mobile money in 2007, the cell phone has been opening financial access all over the world. Spurred by the World Bank’s financial inclusion initiative and Sustainable Development Goals, the financial system added 1.2 billion people between 2011 and 2017. Nearly 70% of adults now have a bank account. However, 1.7 billion still do not, because they lack reliable access and/or the needed identity authentication (especially for women). Meanwhile, those with basic accounts still struggle with limited product choices, predatory practices, and, often, unreliable payments infrastructure.
In response, emerging market central banks are reimagining regulatory design, leveraging technology to scale up their own capacity without proportionally adding headcount. These digital-first strategies for mobile-first markets can leapfrog the older models, blazing a trail to the digital age for regulators everywhere.
AIR works with the United Nations, other international bodies, central banks, and NGOs to help develop and share new methods. We also help foster safe, fast digital payment systems.