Angela came to Bogota as a refugee from Venezuela in 2016 and started selling freshly sourced fruits and vegetables. She’s an employee at Merqueya, a shop in the Paloquemao market in Bogota, and when we met with her last month, she discussed how this income has helped her find stability and build a life in a new country.
We work with institutions around the world that help people like Angela achieve greater financial security and fulfill their ambitions by supporting the growth of micro and small businesses where they work. It is easier than ever before to serve more people, effectively, through the use of technology. For small businesses, digital financial tools can help them process more transactions and manage their operations, which makes it easier for them to grow and create jobs for people in their community.
At Accion, we see digital technology as a means to achieving greater financial inclusion because when everyone has the tools they need to support their businesses and their families, they’re able to cover their day-to-day needs and plan for a better future. While digitization is effective for bringing useful financial tools to more businesses and individuals, it’s crucial that these tools are designed responsibly to protect customers. The Smart Campaign, which promotes customer protection in financial services, recently released for public comment The Consumer Protection Standards for Digital Credit to establish benchmarks and standards for digital lending. The standards address appropriate product design and delivery, prevention of overindebtedness, transparency, responsible pricing, fair and respectful treatment of clients, data privacy and security, and mechanisms for complaint resolution. Maintaining these principles is a core part of our work with partners.
On November 1, 2018, the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth and Accion launched a global program that will make it easier for 10 million clients, including 4 million merchants, to fully benefit from the digital economy. Stuck in the cash economy, people around the world rely on what’s in their pocket after a day of work or stashed under a mattress for emergencies. They have little access to tools to manage their daily expenses, grow their businesses, and plan for the future — and being invisible to the formal financial sector can make them vulnerable to predatory lenders. To make sure more individuals and businesses have useful financial tools that enable them to run better, buy better, and sell better, this project will digitally transform financial service providers and operationally strengthen fintechs. By the end of 2020, we aim to be supporting up to 12 institutions across countries such as Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, Pakistan, India, Myanmar, and Indonesia.