Research & Analysis
Reading Deck

Digital Finance for the Real Economy: Water

Roughly 844 million people worldwide do not have access to clean water. Despite the documented benefits, investments in achieving universal access to safe water remain low due to several factors: availability of free but less sanitary water sources, high cost of delivery, subsidized tariff levels that do not recover costs, lack of capital to replace obsolete infrastructure, poor service capacity and governance, and market distortions by informal providers.

Digital financial services have enormous potential to achieve universal access to safe water and sanitation (SDG 6):

  • Digitizing water bill payments saves time for customers, improves revenue collection for utilities and decreases their cost of collection. 
  • Prepaid water can eliminate arrears for utilities while providing flexibility in consumption and payments for poor households.
  • Like PAYGo solar, prepaid water can be combined with digital credit for grid connections (e.g., smart meters) or water assets (e.g., purifiers or roof tanks) to expand access to in-home water and lower costs of financing for providers.
  • Installation of smart grids provides rich customer data, improving service quality and enabling quicker response to service disruptions (e.g., leaks).
  • For poor and vulnerable households, digital finance can also improve targeted subsidies.

Related Resources

Reading Deck

Education is a powerful tool to combat poverty. This slidedeck describes how digital finance can remove systemic barriers to high-quality global education in at least three ways.
Reading Deck

This slidedeck describes how digital finance can help achieve universal access to clean, affordable energy (SDG 7) in three major ways.
Reading Deck

This slide deck describes how digital financial services can contribute to international development across several sectors like energy, water, education and health.