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Once simply a communication tool, the mobile phone is driving the digital and financial revolution in Africa. Despite only 20% of people living on the continent having a bank account, 80% are connected to a mobile service network. In remote rural areas across the continent, owning a mobile phone might be more common than having access to electricity or piped water, as these devices have quickly evolved into service delivery platforms.

The current explosive growth of the financial technology sector – or FinTech – in emerging markets has helped millions of people address immediate needs and overcome daily challenges related to accessing electricity, getting seed capital or cash for emergencies, receiving professional healthcare advice, basic literacy and maths tuition. Most importantly, FinTechs are providing a range of affordable and convenient banking services to people who are usually unbanked or underbanked, paving the way for achieving universal financial inclusion.

This is why the AFD Group is looking at FinTechs as key allies in its work to reduce extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity in developing countries. In April this year, Proparco, AFD’s subsidiary dedicated to financing the private sector, signed a US$ 3 million equity investment in JUMO, a technology start-up that helps people access credit and savings in real time via their mobile phones.

© AFD2018

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