About the study

Digital financial services (DFS) have expanded rapidly across Sub-Saharan Africa over the past decade. Millions of people who did not previously enjoy access to formal financial services can now make payments, save, borrow and become insured with a few clicks on a mobile phone or a finger’s swipe at an agent’s point-of-sale device. The study observed that the way people embrace or reject these technologies depends on social and cultural factors that influence their trust.

The IFC-Mastercard Foundation Partnership for Financial Inclusion partnered with the African Studies Center, University of Leiden to conduct an ethnographic study on the perceptions and attitudes of users and non-users of digital financial services; to understand the socio-cultural drivers and barriers people face when adopting these services.  The results of this research contribute toward the Partnership’s mission to scale digital financial services in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Working with Financial Service Providers in 9 African markets, the Partnership has helped improve financial access for over 11.4 million individuals.

This website was developed to share the results of the ethnographic research and its six-point framework that articulates factors that can positively or negatively influence peoples’ trust and use of digital financial services. The Partnership collaborated with Vignette Interactive to create this resource, using an interactive visual storytelling approach.

The voices of numerous individuals interviewed during the ethnographic research are presented through animated videos and an interactive game on this website. The aim is to help you to step into someone else’s shoes: to better understand challenges and motivations that under-served individuals face regarding digital financial services.  For providers and industry practitioners, to glimpse at your services through the eyes of your customers.  Trust is culturally and historically embedded within these contexts; and better financial inclusion can be achieved by growing trust between people and DFS.

You are invited to peruse this research in detail.  The original ethnographic study is available at www.ifc.org/financialinclusionafrica, along with the Sense of Inclusion report, which focused on the six-point framework and its operational implication.  A forthcoming working paper presents a case study on the operationalization of ethnography for achieving business insights.