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IFC Partners with the Central Bank of Azerbaijan to Boost Digital Financial Services in Azerbaijan

Baku, Azerbaijan, August 18, 2020 —IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, has signed an agreement with the Central Bank of Azerbaijan to enable digital payments in the country as part of the government’s efforts to boost economic activities for individuals and businesses, especially micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
The agreement is part of IFC’s efforts to help boost innovation and competition in Azerbaijan’s financial sector. The work will include the establishment of the infrastructure for digital financial services that can increase profitability and support growth of private companies, while also opening market for investments. The work is led by IFC’s Electronic and Digital Financial Services Project, which is implemented in partnership with the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO .
IFC will work with the Central Bank to establish a regulatory sandbox, a special regime that allows banks and companies to test innovative financial services and products. The project will support improvements of instant payments and allow customers to access banking services electronically, without having to visit bank branches, easing access to those services.
“Electronic and digital financial services are important elements of a modern financial system and have acquired even more importance amid the pandemic,” said Jan van Bilsen, IFC Regional Manager for the South Caucasus. “Our joint efforts will support development of these services, enabling people and businesses to get those services faster, without leaving their homes, while also helping Azerbaijan’s banking system modernize and open up for more investments.”
The work will benefit underbanked people, especially in remote areas of the country where bank branches are not available. The cooperation also aims to help raise public awareness of the digital financial services and enhance financial literacy in the country.
The work is part of IFC’s efforts to support Azerbaijan’s banking system in becoming more resilient to challenges created by pandemic, like COVID-19.
Azerbaijan became an IFC member in 1995. Since then, IFC has invested around $473 million in the country, including $73 million through mobilization. These funds have financed 56 projects across a range of sectors, including financial services, infrastructure, and manufacturing. In addition, IFC has supported around $100 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 IFC
IFC—a sister organization of the World Bank and member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work in more than 100 countries, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in developing countries. In fiscal year 2019, we invested more than $19 billion in private companies and financial institutions in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit www.ifc.org .
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About SECO
SECO is Switzerland’s competence center for all core issues relating to economic policy. SECO’s economic development cooperation strives to achieve inclusive sustainable growth and poverty reduction in its partner countries. Its activities aim to create more and better jobs, to enhance trade and competitiveness, to support effective institutions and services and to foster climate resilient economies. For more information, visit www.seco-cooperation.admin.ch .