The United Nations (UN) blamed regulatory shortcomings for contributing to huge discrepancies in the proportion of adults with mobile money accounts in developing markets across the world.
In its Financing for Sustainable Development Report 2019, the UN found that although mobile money and financial technology had produced great results in some African and Asian countries, the success was far from consistent across the world. It specifically pointed to low uptake levels in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“The picture is not uniform across countries,” it stated. “Mobile money has made a significant impact in some countries outside of sub-Saharan Africa, such as Bangladesh and Mongolia, but this is not reflected in broader global trends.”
“Of the 1.7 billion adults in the world that do not have access to financial services, about 1.1 billion have a mobile phone. Mobile phones could continue to strengthen financial inclusion, provided the necessary complementary investments and policy actions are made.”
The development organisation said financial technology as a whole remained a “nascent industry in Latin America and the Caribbean” with the greatest impact concentrated in Brazil and Mexico. It did also note there was some progress in Argentina, Chile and Colombia.
“Even in Africa the share of adults with mobile money accounts varies widely between countries,” it added. “To a degree, this points to the continued digital divide across and within countries. Often, however, it reflects shortcomings in regulatory environments.”
The report echoes comments made by UN Conference on Trade and Development secretary general Mukhisa Kituyi at a business conference last month.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back