Airtel signs with IFC for mobile financial services

Airtel Zambia has signed an advisory services agreement with IFC, a member of the World Bank Group valued at $1 million to increase access to mobile financial services in the Zambian market in order to strengthen financial inclusion.

In Zambia, 66 percent of the adult population is currently excluded from formal financial services. Lacking access to formal financial services, a majority of the population has no choice but to rely on cash and informal financial services for transactions, savings and credit, at high risk and cost.

The overall aim of the three-year project is to assist Airtel Money Zambia in building a sustainable mobile money operation. IFC will provide market research and advisory services on agent network management and business strategy development.

The project is part of the Partnership for Financial Inclusion, a $37.4 million joint initiative of IFC and The MasterCard Foundation to expand microfinance and advance mobile financial services in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Brenda Thole, director, Airtel Money Zambia said, “A key focus area for Airtel Money is to support the government’s mandate to enhance financial inclusion and to reach out to the un-banked population who may still have fears of mainstream banking or believe the services are too costly. This partnership with IFC and The MasterCard Foundation will boost our drive of customer education and help us build strong agent relationships which are key to the success of this product.”

Greta Bull, IFC Regional Manager, Advisory Services, Financial Institutions Group, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, said, “Mobile phone usage is very high in Zambia making it an ideal market in which to leverage technology to reach those who have previously been excluded from formal financial services. Financial inclusion is an important tool in promoting inclusive economic growth that can have significant impact.”

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