Finding the data to reach Africa’s unbanked

Transforming the Know Your Customer verification process will unlock countless opportunities for Africa’s unbanked to participate in the digital economy.

14 October 2022

Sergio Barbosa, FutureBank

My son’s nanny has just opened her very first bank account. She’s 34. Helping her through the process and chatting to her about what she plans to do with this new financial resource, she explained that just having a secure place to store her money was a big win. When I offered to show her how to use the account to send money to her family living in Malawi, she told me that they don’t have bank accounts either. There are no banks or ATMs in their community and the cost of travelling to the nearest bank is uneconomical for them because it’s too far away. Her reality is the reality of so many people living throughout Africa. Data from the World Bank shows that around 45% of people living in Sub-Saharan Africa don’t have access to a bank account, which means that almost half a billion people lack access to the financial services most Brainstorm readers use every day.

According to Sergio Barbosa, CEO of FutureBank, not only does this mean that millions of people can’t transact conveniently, it also means that they can’t access the capital they need to start a business, study further or buy their first home. “Financial inclusion really comes down to being able to secure credit from a regulated financial institution. When people can’t do this, economic growth and economic opportunities suffer,” he says.

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