a woman fills up a jug of water at a water station in Bangladesh Photo by Sohel Parvez Haque, 2017 CGAP Photo Contest

How Digital Finance Boosts Access to Basic Services

The stakes in achieving universal access to high-quality education are high. According to the Global Partnership for Education, 420 million people could be lifted from poverty with a secondary education, cutting the number of poor worldwide in half. And a child whose mother can read is 50 percent more likely to live past the age of five. Yet poverty prevents many children from attending school. Tuition and other expenses are costly and bills often are difficult for families with irregular incomes to pay. CGAP has found that financial services can remove barriers to education by increasing transparency in the use of public education funds, improving teacher’s presence and accountability, and expanding access to education finance for low-income families.

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.

Innovations in digital finance can play a role in the Sustainable Development Goals' aim to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”

Country Examples


A new study out of Uganda offers strong evidence that lock-out technology can enable providers to sustainably lend to low-income customers, who may need credit for school fees and other critical expenses.

A pay-as-you-go (PAYGo) solar provider in Uganda is proving that an often-overlooked benefit of PAYGo – financial inclusion – can also affect education outcomes by keeping kids in the classroom.

In just months, Bangladesh digitized financial aid payments for education to millions of families. What can other countries learn from this rapid transition to digital payments?

Additional Resources

Blog Series

The stakes in achieving universal access to high-quality education are high, yet many children remain out of school. The financial challenges associated with paying school fees and covering the other costs of education contribute to this problem. In this blog series, CGAP

Blog Series

There are about 1 billion people between 15 and 24 years of age in the world’s less developed regions. As they grow into adulthood, they will need support from many sources – including parents, trusted mentors, and social networks – and a variety of financial and non-financial