Zambia urged to promote financial inclusion

THERE is need to raise more awareness on the benefits of using Digital Finance Services (DFS) in Zambia to promote financial inclusion of the unbanked population, says the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF). UNCDF is the UN’s capital investment agency for the world’s 48 least developed countries.  UNCDF mobile money for the poor programme regional technical specialist Nandini Harihareswara said meaningful awareness of DFS was very low in the country. Ms Harihareswara noted that DFS held an enormous opportunity for greater financial inclusion and expansion of basic services, hence the need to raise awareness on the need to use of DFS among the rural community. She said this when she gave a presentation on DFS at the on-going media economic and financial literacy training organised by the Financial Sector Deepening Zambia (FSDZ) and Zambia Institute for Policy Analysis and Research (ZIPAR) in Lusaka on Wednesday. “DFS are a powerful means to expand access beyond financial services to other sectors, including agriculture, transportation, water, health, education, and clean energy. “Meaningful awareness of DFS is very low in Zambia. Most people do not know the benefits of using DFS which are quick and affordable and can be used at any time,” she said. She said there was a lot to be done in pushing for more DFS usage in Zambia but it should start with the providers educating more and partnering with other providers to enable cross-platform transactions. Ms Harihareswara said this was possibly one way to increase revenue for the providers and agents, adding that this would ultimately lead to more financial inclusion of the largely unbanked population in Zambia. She said UNCDF was working with FSD Zambia to try and address the challenges faced with regards to the use of DFS in the country. “Agents networks sometimes are not in the right place or do not have enough cash on hand and lack of awareness on the benefits of using DFS have led to low usage of DFS in the country. “These are some of the challenges that we together with FSDZ are trying to address. I challenge you the media to report more on such issues, ” she said.

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