The twin global crises of a health pandemic and economic lockdowns are severely harming the livelihoods of low-income people all around the world; many parts of the financial inclusion ecosystem designed to help them also are at risk. Microfinance institutions and other credit-issuing organizations, including off-grid energy providers and fintechs, are bracing themselves to ride out the economic storm. Investors and donors are looking for ways to provide support, even as their own economies suffer. Mobile money operators, meanwhile, are juggling their important role in getting money into the hands of the needy against challenges from governments that don’t always recognize that cash distribution costs money, agents have to stay open and that shopkeepers must have sufficient liquidity to support their core businesses and those who rely upon them.
In face of these multiple challenges, CGAP is focusing its COVID-19 work on four areas that play a vital role in furthering financial inclusion: the MFI sector; distribution and government-to-person payments; understanding the impact on customers; and guidance for funders and investors.
For the larger financial inclusion community, FinDev Gateway has created the COVID-19 Resource Hub as a collective space for partners to share insights, experiences and lessons learned as we all struggle to manage this unprecedented global crisis.
CGAP is gathering information about actions taken by governments to provide relief to borrowers and lenders, assessing their impact on MFIs and low-income customers, and working to ensure that regulatory responses incorporate best practices.
A framework for identifying and assessing crisis responses must take account of the special characteristics of microfinance which leads to the question of how regulators should respond. A review of current practice in a range of countries suggests there are six key steps to be taken at the level of regulation and policy.
A set of CGAP background documents examine the impact of the COVID-19 crisis at the country level. These documents provide a snapshot of the policy and regulatory responses adopted by financial authorities in four countries: Peru, India, Pakistan, and Uganda.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis is first and foremost a public health crisis, but it is also threatening many people’s financial security. This is especially true for low-income families in developing countries. As reports of distress pour in from individuals, small business and the financial institutions that serve them, it is clear that the financial inclusion community has a vital role to play in supporting financial services ecosystems as part of the global response to the pandemic. CGAP shares information about the pandemic’s impact on financial services providers, their agents and their customers to inform responses within the financial inclusion community.