The Universal Postal Union (UPU) has announced the rollout of digital financial services projects reaching as many as 800,000 people and businesses across Africa, Asia and the Pacific.
Under its Financial Inclusion Technical Assistance Facility (FITAF), Rwanda, Benin
UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein says FITAF focuses on advancing financial inclusion and the digitization of postal financial services.
Speaking at a panel session titled “Boosting financial inclusion through mobile money” during UNCTAD’s Africa eCommerce Week in Nairobi, Hussein said the UPU was “acting concretely to develop digital finance through the Post on the ground to the benefits of the underserved populations and businesses.”
He added, “We are building partnerships with international donors and the private sector to support the Posts in their digital journey.”
According to the World Bank, 1.7 billion adults still lack access to formal financial services.
One billion of those excluded are women. With more than 670,000 outlets reaching some of the world’s remotest areas, the Post is a perfect partner for expanding financial inclusion.
FITAF helps Posts build capacity to offer the digital financial services that can reach anyone, anywhere, anytime, giving citizens a safe place to keep their money and enabling small businesses to access the financing they need to grow and contribute to the economy.
The programme also contributes to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by leveraging the Post’s role as a public services provider.
The projects announced will help four postal operators set up mobile financial solutions for payments, savings and insurance services, and five others to understand and explore the opportunities in digital finance.
Through FITAF, the UPU aims to implement 20 innovative digital postal financial services projects by the end of 2020.
A second call for projects was also announced during the meeting.
In Africa, there are an estimated 21 million online shoppers with the UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyis saying that the continent trails the rest of the world in readiness for digital economy.
“Three-quarters of the African population
Nigeria, which is Africa’s most populous nation and the continent’s largest B2C e-commerce market (regarding both number of shoppers and revenue), ranks second, largely thanks to a significant increase in postal reliability as measured by the Universal Postal Union (UPU).
For Rwanda, reliable delivery of products is critical to growing it’s e-commerce anddriving the mobile money project.
African countries where mobile connectivity is fuelling e-commerce are Madagascar, Uganda and Zambia.
This development is priming the three countries to better engage with the digital economy and according to an assessment by UNCTAD, new technologies can boost trade in the three African countries.
Dr Kituyi said that even though e-commerce and digital entrepreneurship are snowballing on the continent, countries are at very different stages of development.
With the UPU injection of support, it is expected that the digital economy in Africa will take root as more stakeholders invest in the space.
UPU says that Financial inclusion is the provision of basic financial services (savings, payments, money transfers, insurance, credit) to people without access to such services.
Already, some 1.5 billion people worldwide are already using the financial services provided by Posts.
“The postal sector is, therefore, the second largest contributor to financial inclusion worldwide, behind banks but far ahead of microfinance institutions or mobile phone operators,” UPU says.
The UPU helps its member countries to introduce or develop inclusive and
The UPU also provides its member countries with technical assistance to improve
With support from Visa Inc. and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the UPU has been able to establish a new Financial Inclusion Technical Assistance Facility (FITAF) to champion postal action on inclusive digital financial services