Financial inclusion improves access to healthcare and education in the Middle East and Africa, according to a new white paper from Mastercard.
The study, Financial Inclusion+ – Connecting people to finance, health and educationexplores how health, education, digital and financial inclusion are all linked to unlock greater prosperity and well-being for communities across the region.
It reveals that access to finance, healthcare and education has become even more difficult in the past two years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic due to movement restrictions and lockdowns. .
This has increased the need for digital financial inclusion; and to use it as a platform to distribute health and education services to the masses.
Mastercard is playing a leading role in the fight against financial inclusion, with a previous goal of bringing 500 million excluded people into the digital economy – a goal that was met in 2020 – then increased during the height of the crisis. pandemic with a new commitment to include 500 people. million more, or a total of one billion people by 2025.
“We are confident that we can improve financial and digital inclusion using a multi-stakeholder approach that brings together governments, financial institutions, regulators, mobile network operators, equipment manufacturers and education service providers. and health united by a common goal. We believe this will also lead to increased inclusion in health and education spaces,” said Umar Hashmi, Vice President, Global Products and Engineering, Mastercard.
According to the Mastercard survey on which the white paper is based, 83% of respondents in the region say they own a smartphone, with Jordan leading (89%) and Morocco leading (75%).
Over 41% say they acquired a new smart device in 2020-21 as more health and education services have been forced online due to the pandemic – 56% say they are digitally connected to a provider education services.
Just over half (55%) say they use digital media to conduct financial transactions, and 43% say they are digitally connected to a health service provider, with Kenya and Nigeria hitting 55% and Iraq 11% .
Digital transformation is a cure for marginalized healthcare
A 2021 report found that there are 130 mobile insurance services in 28 countries, more than half of which provide coverage for life and funerals or health and hospitalization. In 2020, 43 million policies were issued, of which 29 million related to personal insurance.
Mastercard is one of the players in this space in sub-Saharan Africa, working to provide a reinsurance solution with a partner.
Reinsurance would mean that clients can recover part of their hospital costs with cash insurance.
Telehealth is another major enabler of health inclusion. A “voice plus text” WhatsApp-based service, through which high-quality medical consultation can be made available to everyone, is already a possibility Mastercard is exploring for all its cardholders in key markets.
Finding answers for education through digitization
Mastercard MEA Inclusion Survey 2021 finds people digitally connected to healthcare providers use their devices to pay for services; schedule appointments; obtain vaccination updates; obtain/manage/pay for health insurance; manage medical reports; and track and report symptoms, in that order of use from most to least.
Similarly, people connected to educational service providers use their devices to attend live classes; interact with teachers and students; access recorded conferences; manage study schedules; pay for services; and access progress reports, in that order of use.
Education includes the training and development of young adults. In South Africa, Mastercard has partnered with Junior Achievement South Africa to empower women by supporting entrepreneurship.
This initiative aims to empower unemployed or self-employed young women between the ages of 18 and 35 to pursue their own business through training.
The nine-year partnership with JA South Africa has helped over 3,000 girls and young women learn entrepreneurial skills, start new businesses and create new jobs.
In collaboration with Mercy Corps in Jordan, Mastercard’s Center for Inclusive Growth launched the Arab Micromentor platform, which provides free online global mentoring and digital education tools to 3,500 entrepreneurs in Jordan.
The white paper concludes that inclusion in the mainstream of finance, which also promotes access to effective health and education services, can only be enhanced by the fundamental or infrastructural availability of digitalization and devices. who can access the online world.
The report is available here.