GSMA announces partnership with the World Bank on the Universal Financial Access Initiative

April 20, 2017 | Mobile Money | Global | Louise Matich

Earlier this week, the GSMA announced that we have teamed up with the World Bank to achieve Universal Financial Access (UFA) by 2020, pledging to support the creation of 500 million mobile money accounts over the course of this initiative.

Recognising financial access as a basic building block to manage an individual’s financial life, the UFA 2020 initiative aims to provide all adults worldwide with access to a transaction account to store money and to send and receive payments. Driven by the World Bank Group, it brings together 32 partners including banks, fintech, payment and technology companies, mobile network operators, microfinance institutions, regulators and industry associations.

“Mobile networks are playing an essential role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, enabling new ways to address longstanding development challenges,” said Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA. “Our commitment to support the creation of 500 million mobile money accounts reflects the scale of ambition needed to successfully close the global gap in access to financial services. We look forward to working closely with the World Bank Group and its UFA partners to ensure the conditions exist so that inclusive services, such as mobile money, can reach new heights.”

Access to a transaction account is a first step toward broader financial inclusion, which helps poor families escape poverty and afford such essential social services as water, electricity, housing, education and health care. Over the last decade, mobile money has become one of the best tools to advance financial inclusion. As mobile money continues to expand globally, gaining access to financial services means much more than just the ability to use a transactional account. People in countries around the world are now enjoying the benefits of greater security, resilience and empowerment. Further, according to research in our latest State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money:

  • In 2016 for the first time, registered mobile money accounts surpassed the half a billion mark which shows just how far-reaching mobile money has become.
  • There are now 277 mobile money services in the world, spread over 92 countries, covering two-thirds of low- and middle-income countries.
  • In 2016, more than 40% of the adult population in eight countries were actively using mobile money—an increase from just two countries in 2015.
  • Mobile money contributes to 11  of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, including by reducing poverty and giving people tools they can use to better manage their lives.


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