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  • Lombeh K

Analytical Technology Insight: Fintech and Financial Inclusion in Liberia



Financial technology (fintech) offers promising avenues to broaden financial inclusion for underserved populations in Liberia. By leveraging digital platforms and innovative financial products, fintech can provide affordable and accessible services to individuals and businesses that have been traditionally excluded from the formal financial system. However, several barriers must be overcome to achieve widespread financial inclusion in Liberia, including limited internet access, low financial literacy rates, and inadequate regulatory frameworks (Demirgüç-Kunt et al., 2018).


Despite the potential of fintech to enhance financial inclusion, internet access remains a significant challenge in Liberia. According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), in 2020, only 7.3% of Liberia's population had access to the internet (ITU, 2021). This limited access hinders the proliferation of digital financial services, as individuals require a reliable internet connection to engage with fintech platforms. Efforts to expand internet coverage and affordability are crucial to fully realize the benefits of fintech in Liberia.


Low financial literacy rates also impede the adoption of fintech services among Liberia's underserved populations. A survey conducted by the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) found that only 35% of adults in Liberia were considered financially literate in 2016 (CBL, 2016). A lack of financial knowledge can prevent individuals from effectively using digital financial services and may discourage them from participating in the formal financial system. Initiatives to promote financial education and raise awareness about the benefits of fintech are essential for fostering financial inclusion.


Lastly, an insufficient regulatory framework can hinder the growth and development of the fintech sector in Liberia. A well-designed regulatory environment is necessary to ensure consumer protection, maintain financial stability, and foster innovation in the fintech industry (Zetzsche et al., 2017). The Central Bank of Liberia and other relevant authorities must collaborate to develop comprehensive and adaptive regulatory frameworks that support the expansion of fintech services while mitigating associated risks.


Fintech presents a significant opportunity to enhance financial inclusion in Liberia by reaching underserved populations with affordable and accessible financial services. To capitalize on this potential, it is vital to address existing barriers, such as limited internet access, low financial literacy rates, and inadequate regulatory frameworks. By overcoming these obstacles, fintech can play a transformative role in promoting financial inclusion and driving sustainable economic growth in Liberia.


Fintech has the potential to expand access to financial services in Liberia. Fintech refers to the use of technology to deliver financial services. Fintech companies are using a variety of technologies, such as mobile money, online banking, and peer-to-peer lending, to reach previously underserved populations.


For example, MTN Liberia, the country's largest mobile operator, launched a mobile money service in 2011. The service, called MTN Money, allows customers to send and receive money, pay bills, and make purchases using their mobile phones. MTN Money has been a success, with over 2 million registered users.


Other fintech companies in Liberia are also working to expand access to financial services. For example, Zogo is a microfinance company that provides loans to small businesses and individuals. Zogo uses technology to make the loan application process more efficient and accessible.


Fintech has the potential to make a significant contribution to financial inclusion in Liberia. However, there are still a number of challenges that need to be addressed, such as limited internet access, low financial literacy rates, and insufficient regulatory frameworks.


References:


Central Bank of Liberia (CBL). (2016). Financial Inclusion in Liberia: Access, Usage, and Quality. Retrieved from https://www.cbl.org.lr/doc/financial%20inclusion.pdf


Demirgüç-Kunt, A., Klapper, L., Singer, D., Ansar, S., & Hess, J. (2018). The Global Findex Database 2017: Measuring Financial Inclusion and the Fintech Revolution. World Bank.


International Telecommunication Union (ITU). (2021). ICT Indicators Database. Retrieved from https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/Pages/stat/default.aspx


Zetzsche, D. A., Buckley, R. P., Arner, D. W., & Barberis, J. N. (2017). Regulating a revolution: From regulatory sandboxes to smart regulation. Fordham Journal of Corporate & Financial Law, 23(1), 31-103.

 

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