“These countries demonstrated considerable commitment to financial inclusion by defining specific inclusion objectives and taking policy, regulatory, and technological steps to speed progress toward inclusion,” says the report.
It says countries passed laws that facilitated financial inclusion, implementing legal and regulatory changes that permitted involvement of diverse institutions in the financial services market, supporting mobile and digital networks that enabled service delivery.
Kenya’s regulations which allow both banks and non-bank institutions, including mobile operators, to offer financial services had, as of August 2014, about 90 percent of Kenyan households using mobile money services, which led it to score highly.
Kenya’s Vodafone mobile money transfer service, M-Pesa, began as an experiment in 2007 and the success of the scheme saw it being adopted in a number of under-banked countries such as Afghanistan and Tanzania.
South Africa is ranked number one for mobile capacity having achieved a 100 percent score, 17th place for regulatory environment and 3rd place for adoption.
In 2014, analysis showed South Africa ranked highly with 75 percent of adults having bank accounts and 5 percent used non-bank financial products.
The Banking Association of South Africa says the banking industry set a target of improving financial inclusion in the country by raising the levels of banked individuals from 67 to 70 percent by 2015.
The report says in order to drive access to and adoption of digital financial services (including but not limited to mobile money), governments and the private sector will need to increase investments in digital communications and payments infrastructure and ensure services are affordable.
“We believe that increasing smartphone penetration will expand access to more user-friendly interfaces,” the report notes.