Research & Analysis

Fintechs and Financial Inclusion

Fintechs are innovating at every step of the financial services value chain, often through new value propositions, including flexible products and better ways to address the financial challenges faced by low-income customers. They are making financial services more affordable and accessible. They are improving the customer experience of financial services and accelerating use and engagement. They are also building the groundwork—including easier digital identity verification, collaborative customer due diligence, data sharing, and payment schemes—that can catalyze a host of financial services.

This paper documents CGAP’s work with 18 fintech pilots in Africa and South Asia. The goal of this paper is to explain innovations in a detailed way and generate insight on whether the services (i) work as stated, (ii) create value for underserved customers, and (iii) ease age-old pain points in delivering financial services to underserved customers.

It is written for funders—whether donors, investors, development finance institutions, or philanthropic organizations—who engage with fintechs to advance financial inclusion. Many early-stage fintechs that have potentially game-changing ideas are considered too risky for private capital, so they depend on patient capital from global development and impact investing communities. The lessons learned through the pilots can help funders better understand the potential impact of fintechs in the financial inclusion space and inform their funding decisions.

A separate set of case studies, “Fintechs and Financial Inclusion: Lessons Learned,” describes for each pilot the service that was piloted, the nature of our testing, and emerging lessons. Since the products in the pilots differed widely, each pilot has its own metrics for success. Some pilots have quantitative metrics, while others have qualitative metrics. As is the nature of start-up innovation, not all pilots were successful. In fact, few were successful in exactly the way we envisioned. Even when pilots were not successful, they exposed areas that need to be reconsidered and reworked. These were just as valuable.

A supplementary slide deck can be found here.

Related Resources


After two years of piloting with 18 fintechs around the world, CGAP has identified several fintech innovations that advance financial inclusion.