New research shows mobile finance can boost national GDP

Kigali – New research from Vodafone Group, Vodacom Group, Safaricom and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) indicates that the successful deployment and adoption of mobile financial services is associated with a positive impact on the growth of GDP in developing markets because they help businesses cut costs, access credit for investment, and connect with consumers who were previously excluded from financial services.

Research in econometric modeling1 – which looked at 49 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America – found that countries with successful mobile money services had annual GDP per capita growth rates up to 1 percentage point higher to countries where mobile money platforms had not been successful or had not been introduced.

Based on previous World Bank research on the relationship between economic growth and reductions in the number of people living in poverty2this growth in GDP per capita implies that countries that have successfully adopted mobile money could reduce poverty by around 2.6%.

The analysis was conducted as part of the Africa.Connected business campaign, an initiative to drive sustainable development through collaboration and help close the gaps that prevent progress in Africa’s key economic sectors. The findings are part of a new research paper, Digital finance platforms for everyonethe fourth research paper developed and published under the Africa.Connected umbrella.

Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, CEO of M-Pesa Africa and Director of Financial Services at Safaricom, said:

“Mobile financial services platforms like M-Pesa are key drivers of financial inclusion in society, which can improve people’s life chances and enable businesses to start and grow, bringing wealth and jobs in developing economies. However, barriers remain both to platform access – including digital literacy and smartphone accessibility – and to their development – ​​with uneven regulatory playing fields for non-traditional financial service providers in many country.

As part of the Africa.Connected research, consumer surveys were conducted among M-Pesa users in Kenya and Tanzania, and the results were extrapolated to Ghana and Mozambique. A business survey was also conducted in Kenya. The resulting research underscored the continued importance of the world’s first mobile money service 15 years after its launch in 2007. The researchers estimated that:

  • 17.6 million current users in the four countries had no access to any formal financial service before using M-Pesa;
  • 98% of businesses surveyed said M-Pesa helps them do business, with the main benefits of M-Pesa being to facilitate faster and more secure payments and enable the sale of goods and services online; and
  • 95% of businesses surveyed indicated that they use M-Pesa for at least half of their business transactions.

Ulrika Modeer, UN Under-Secretary-General and Director of the Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy at UNDP, said:

“Financial inclusion is both a prerequisite and a key enabler for achieving many of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including reducing poverty, boosting economic growth, promoting market access and advocating for investment in key sectors such as education, agriculture and health. But more importantly, it is about putting people at the centre, giving them more power over their money and increase their resilience The elimination of financial exclusion in Africa and around the world must be a priority if we are to ensure inclusive and sustainable prosperity for all on a healthy planet.

Click here to read the full Africa.connected financial inclusion paper:

https://www.vodafone.com/sites/default/files/2022-10/digital-finance-platforms-to-empower-all.pdf

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Notes to Editors

1. The econometric model used data covering the period 2003 – 2019. More recent data was not included in the modeling due to the effects of the pandemic.

2. Adams, 2003, Economic Growth, Inequality and Poverty: Results from a New Dataset. World Bank. Available online: https://elibrary.worldbank.org/doi/abs/10.1596/1813-9450-2972

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