This panel explores the different ways in which finance and financial markets have changed to account for the needs of low income households in the African context. It explores how the new financial instruments both in the formal and informal markets have disrupted the financial landscape.
The proposed panel explores different ways in which financial markets are changing in the African context. Although policy makers continue to focus on formal markets, mainstream financial institutions such as banks are recognizing the key role played by informal markets. Many of these have developed new products such as accounts for rotating credit and savings groups which create an important link between formal and final informal financial markets. Technology has in particular disrupted the way both formal and informal markets coexist and how this interaction is affecting financial inclusion. Mobile finance has led to an explosion in mobile-based financial services. Moreover, measures of financial inclusion are no longer exclusively related to formal financial institutions. Access to financial markets through electronic means has been instrumental in increasing the global level of financial inclusion. However, other services such as micro-insurance remain underdeveloped. Related, the understanding of the existence and operation of such markets in African remain underexplored. We welcome papers that address the question of finance for the poor and in particular those that address how innovations in the financial market have changed both the concept and practice of finance in the African context. Key focal points revolve around strategic rethinking of best practice and repositioning of disruptive financial models especially as they relate to economically active poor individuals. Papers may include studies on micro credit, mobile banking and other related services. Papers that address the coexistence of formal and informal financial, markets microinsurance and microsavings are particularly welcome.