Central banks that seek to promote financial inclusion often have an explicit goal to increase the number of customers (or rural customers, or poor customers) that have bank account. It’s easy to understand this policy aim. After all, bank accounts are the foundation of my financial life, and probably of yours, too. But is it always the case that a bank account is the product that the poor could benefit the most from?

The evidence suggests to me that it’s not. Exhibit A, of course, is M-PESA in Kenya. Thirteen million people in Kenya have signed up for a service that meets their need to send (and store) money. It is one of the great, runaway success stories in the history of financial inclusion, and it opened the eyes of many of us to the fact that payments are an important financial need.

For the full story, please visit the GSMA website.

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