This document focuses on a series of “learning advances” identified throughout the first year of the Mastercard Foundation Partnership for Finance in a Digital Africa. It introduces two key concepts to help frame the challenge of financial inclusion in sub-Saharan Africa: Meaningful financial inclusion (involving not only access, but also the effective use of a suite of financial services products), and the pursuit of these goals against the backdrop of an ongoing “shift to digital” both in financial services and in the broader economy. Digital, we argue, is not simply an opportunity to pursue existing business models—at better or lower costs—but an opportunity and an imperative to reexamine the critical role of financial services in enabling participation in the broader economy. To illustrate and explain these points the document is structured as three interconnected chapters which operate at the levels of the Partnership’s Theory of Change: client-level insights on “effective use,” institutional level business models, and the growth of open APIs in the ecosystem. This document is best suited for practitioners, policymakers, and researchers in the digital finance community (especially those with an interest in financial inclusion), but given its modularity, elements of it can be read by anyone with an interest in client learning, emerging digital finance business models, or the suitability and promise of APIs in the African digital finance landscape.

Explore latest publications