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World Bank Group Launches New Advisory Project to Boost Financial Inclusion in Azerbaijan

Baku, Azerbaijan, September 19, 2017 —The World Bank Group is launching a new advisory project in Azerbaijan to boost financial inclusion by improving access to digital financial services for individuals and smaller businesses, helping them grow and create jobs.
The Electronic & Digital Financial Services Project will be implemented by IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and funded by Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). Over the next three years, it will help introduce modern e-banking services in the country, improving access to financial services for customers who find it difficult to access branch-based services.
According to the World Bank’s Financial Inclusion Data Global Findex, only 29 percent of Azerbaijan’s adult population has an account at a financial institution, compared to an average of more than 50 percent in Europe and Central Asia. The project will work with the country’s government agencies, financial institutions, processing centers, mobile network operators and others to help customers use their mobile phones and online banking for transactions, including bill payments and money transfers.
"Improving access to payment services is key to improving access to universal financial services,” said Alim Guliyev, the first deputy chairman of the Central Bank of Azerbaijan. “This project will help introduce digital solutions to simplify many bank-related processes and help individuals and business owners, especially in remote areas, gain access to financial services.”
“High fees and the cost and time necessary to travel to the nearest bank branch often hamper access to financial services for both individuals and businesses, particularly in remote areas in Azerbaijan. Our aim is to help introduce innovative models that can deliver financial services at lower prices for Azerbaijan’s population,” said Jan van Bilsen, IFC Regional Manager for the South Caucasus.
Azerbaijan became a member of IFC in 1995. As of July 31, 2017, IFC had invested around $473 million in the country, of which $73 million was mobilized from other lenders, financing 56 long-term projects across a range of sectors, including the financial services, infrastructure, and manufacturing sectors. In addition, IFC has supported around $80 million in trade through its trade finance program , and provided $250 million for the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. IFC has also implemented a range of advisory projects aimed at encouraging private sector growth.
About the World Bank Group
The World Bank Group is one of the world's largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries. It comprises five closely associated institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA), which together form the World Bank; the International Finance Corporation (IFC); the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA); and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Each institution plays a distinct role in the mission to fight poverty and improve living standards for people in the developing world. For more information, please visit , , and .
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