Digital finance and inclusion in the time of COVID-19: Focus on the impact on digital payments and transfers

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Thursday 5th November 2020, 15:00 – 16:10 CET


In recent months, the COVID-19 crisis has brought about a process of accelerated financial digitization around the world, especially in those countries where it was still lagging compared to regional trends. On the side of the demand for finance, both developed and developing countries have experienced a substantial growth in the subscription and use of digital financial services, as people and businesses have sought alternative ways to run and manage the financial aspects of their lives, in light of extended periods of lockdown, social distancing, and livelihood disruptions. On the side of the supply, traditional financial institutions have been forced to radically re-think their business models and delivery mechanisms by investing heavily in their digital channels, thus often ending up accelerating a process of gradual digitalization of their financial offer that was already in the making.

This webinar will see experts from FAO, the UNCDF and the GSMA convene and discuss how the COVID-19 crisis has impacted on digital financial inclusion trends in developing and emerging countries. In particular, the webinar will focus on the surge in the registration and use of digital payment and transfer services, presenting key data required to understand the pandemic’s impact in this domain, as well as discussing policy and programmatic responses enacted by financial regulators and mobile money operators to promote these services. The discussion will also delve deeper into the impact of the pandemic on e-commerce in developing contexts, presenting noteworthy innovations in this domain that have emerged as a response to the outbreak.



 15:00 – 15:15:    Opening remarks; presentation of key information on the pandemic impact’s on digital payments and transfers in developing countries; overview of core opportunities and risks associated with the accelerated digitization process (Mr. Niclas Benni, FAO).

15:15 – 15.30:    Interventions by financial regulators and mobile money operators to promote the use of digital payments and transfer services, in the framework of the strategic response to the pandemic (Mr. Rishi Raithatha, GSMA).

 15.30 – 15.45:    Overview of UNCDF’s work in developing e-commerce and home delivery systems, as well as digital tools to enhance the resilience of MSMEs, in the framework of its COVID-19 response initiatives (Ms. Sabine Mensah, UNCDF).

 15.45 – 16.10:    General discussion.


Mr. Niclas Benni, FAO

Niclas is a Rural Finance Specialist in the RISE Team of FAO. His work focuses mainly on digital innovation for financial inclusion, climate risk insurance, as well as gender and youth inclusive finance. In the past, he has worked for IFAD, as well as for the UNHCR and various NGOs in Malaysia, Lebanon and Cameroon. He holds an MSc in Development Economics from Bocconi University, and is a graduate of the Rural and Agricultural Finance Programme (RAFP) hosted by the Boulder Institute of Microfinance and the CABFIN Partnership.

Ms. Sabine Mensah, UNCDF

Sabine is a Regional Digital Hub Manager for the UNCDF. She started her career as a loan officer at Ecobank in Burkina Faso and moved to remittances in 1998, spending 15 years with Western Union in Africa, US and Canada. In 2013, Sabine transitioned to Digital Financial Services consulting, based in Kenya, working with the Anthemis Group and MicroSave. In July 2015, she joined UNCDF in Senegal and to date, as the regional digital hub manager, leads 10 countries in West and Central Africa towards inclusive digital economies that leave no one behind. Sabine is also UNCDF’s global workstream lead on open digital infrastructure. She holds an MBA from Central Michigan University (US) and a bachelor in Finance from IFAM (France).

Mr. Rishi Raithatha, GSMA

Rishi is a Senior Advocacy Manager for the Mobile Money programme of the GSMA. He is responsible for developing evidence-based research and policy positions to advance the use and growth of mobile money services – particularly on achieving development goals. Prior to this role, he was an Insights Manager for the AgriTech programme. He joined the GSMA in 2017 as an Analyst for the Mobile Money Programme. Before this, Rishi worked in a variety of analytical roles at Finalta by McKinsey, Willis Towers Watson and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Rishi holds an MA in International Relations and International Organisation from the University of Groningen and a BA in Economics and Politics from SOAS, University of London.


The webinar will be hosted by Zoom and please contact us the for access link and credential by info@rfilc.org