Right policies key in bridging digital financial gap

THE government has been advised to design appropriate policies that will bridge the digital gap for the rural underserved population to access digital financial services.

Traditionally, according to the findings of the Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Research Organisation (STIPRO), most of the digital financial services are concentrated in urban centres leaving the rural population unattended.

“To bridge the gap to accessing digital financial services for the rural population, there is a need to have the right policies aimed at providing a friendly environment for the digital financial services providers to extend investment into the rural areas,” said Dr Denis Mwighusa when presenting the research findings.

He said most of the digital financial services providers have given little consideration to the rural population because they are areas considered unprofitable.

The government has a key role to play in putting a conducive environment including reliable infrastructures like roads and electricity that may help investors in digital financial services providers invest at low cost.

Dr Mwighusa said that the government should make sure that the policies are implemented and monitored regularly to learn and immediately address digital financial services challenges in rural areas.

“Our study has the view that the services providers should either be incentivized or regulated to make sure they constantly communicate with their current and potential clients through appropriate means,” he said.

“Also, the policies should provide incentives and a conducive environment for the service providers to be innovative,” he added.

He said according to Central Bank, Tanzania has achieved great coverage in terms of digital financial services in recent years but saying exclusion persists.

“For instance, while, the World Bank reports a 9 per cent gap between women and men in the access to financial services worldwide, for Tanzania women’s exclusion, stood at 39.3 per cent and men 29.9 per cent.

On her part, Ms Lanta Daniel from STIPRO who presented a paper titled Digital services through mobile phones said to address the challenges faced by rural women the service providers are advised to find an efficient way to serve them better.

“This can be done by strengthening the role of agents in the Know Your Customer (KYC) issues. The services providers are recommended to find an effective marketing strategy that is suitable for the underserved, especially the rural women,” she said.

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