Bangladeshi worker coloring and drying cloth material, Bangladesh. Photo by Sohel Parvez Haque, 2017 CGAP Photo Contest Photo by Sohel Parvez Haque, 2017 CGAP Photo Contest

Beyond Switches, What Makes Interoperability Work?

Today, mobile technologies provide the primary onramp for large numbers of people in developing markets to access and use financial services. But for customers it can be a fragmented experience.  Many network operators and banks operate in silos, their services connected only bilaterally or in brokered ways. These limited, uncoordinated approaches to interoperability create inconsistent customer experiences, limit regulatory oversight, and often fail to deliver essential services for poor people.  

CGAP's interoperability work seeks to help low-income users transact more easily across digital financial services networks. Our research shows there is no one road for countries or a group of companies to building effective interoperable systems.  Different countries choose different paths.  But it is clear that exchanging payments is about much more than simply building the technical connections. Interoperability also requires effective governance, clear operating rules, and business agreements on how to support safe and reliable connections.

Building an interoperable instant payments system

Instant payments systems facilitate the types of small-dollar, mobile payments most frequently used by low-income customers, but building an interoperable system presents many challenges. Based on years of research on instant payment systems around the world, the resources below offer detailed, step-by-step guidance to policy makers, providers, funders, and other actors on how to navigate these challenges


Interoperability—the ability for different systems to connect with one another—is attracting a lot of attention among digital finance experts. This Working Paper presents findings from a 20-country scan conducted in 2016 to assess the state of interoperability in select markets around the world.
Blog Series

Interoperability, the ability for systems to connect and work together, allows for e-mails that pass effortlessly around the world and trains that travel between cities no matter who laid the tracks. Yet interoperability remains largely absent from the financial services used