Research indicates that access to financial services is an important instrument to improve the welfare of the poor by reducing their vulnerability to short-term shocks and enhancing their capacity through investment in human and physical capital. Similarly, external sources of finance, in particular international migrant remittances, have played a crucial role in poverty reduction strategies and local economic development. Remittances may enable better health care, nutrition, housing and education for families left behind. In some situations they may be also invested in real estate which reflects a desire of migrants to help their original communities and generate positive effect on the economy.
However, the poorest groups are somehow constrained from participating in the formal financial sector. Accordingly, the proliferation of mobile phones and the de-regulation of the financial services market have provided new opportunities and alternatives to traditional banking and financial services to excluded groups – in particular migrants – who are prone to be unbanked or under-banked. Today, postal sector is renewing and postal financial inclusion is booming. The postal financial inclusion serves governments and postal operators, with the technical assistance of the Universal Postal Union, for a better use of postal networks for universal access to financial services (including but not limited to money transfers), especially in rural areas where there is a lack of financial infrastructure, in order to support the implementation of public policies in these areas.
The research project analysed the mechanisms and systems of distribution of postal financial services by mobile. Funded by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (SFDFA), this project led to the publication of a report on financial inclusion, which was presented at the 2013 Global forum on financial inclusion for development to inform the organizers (UPU, International Organization of la Francophonie and SFDFA) with a focus on the following issues:
- The needs of consumers (individuals, migrants, SMEs, etc.);
- The most suitable distribution for mobile products: remittances, savings, credit, micro-insurance;
- The rules of Anti-Money Laundering and the financing of illegal trafficking through money transfers;
- The link between financial inclusion and activities of the IOM’s Global Forum on Migration and Development;
- Initiatives taken by different national postal operators (Morocco, Tunisia, Bangladesh) in the field of mobile financial services to identify best practices and relevant business models for the posts.