Dushanbe, Tajikistan, May 31, 2021— Individuals and small businesses in Tajikistan will have improved access to digital financial services through alternative delivery channels, thanks to a new partnership between IFC and Alif Bank aiming to promote financial inclusion in the country.
Increasing the uptake of financial services, while protecting consumer rights and improving financial literacy, are key strategic goals for the government of Tajikistan. The country aims to move towards a digital economy and increase financial inclusion from 47 percent in 2017 to 65 percent over the next five years.
To support these efforts, IFC, in partnership with the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO and the government of the UK, will work with Alif Bank, the country's leading fintech bank, on providing financial services, leveraging technology and education. IFC will support Alif Bank with the deployment of remote access to financial services, increasing access for Tajik households while also advancing financial literacy in the country.
"Innovative technologies are reshaping the banking industry in many countries. Digital transformation and access to affordable digital financial services are critical for Tajikistan's economic growth and resilience in a post-COVID world, said Damien Shiels, IFC Regional Manager for Creating Markets Advisory in Europe and Central Asia. "Building on our extensive global experience, IFC will help Alif Bank increase digital financial services through remote methods of verification and access to fundamental financial services."
This engagement builds on new regulatory policy of the National Bank of Tajikistan as it has worked to mitigate the affect of the global pandemic. Since June 2020, financial services providers have been able to offer digital on-boarding to clients for low-risk profiled financial products and services. These policy measures, combined with efforts of private sector players, resulted in an unprecedented increase in the use of digital payment instruments, which reached 2.2 million mobile subscribers in March 2021 from zero in 2017.
"We believe that we can contribute to improving the lives of people around us by combining three sectors that can help us get there fastest: technology, finance and education" said Abdullo Kurbanov, Co-Founder and CEO of Alif Bank. "We have a progressive National Bank, a great regulatory sandbox testing mechanism, and an experienced IFC team to share important aspects of international practice. The first challenge Alif Bank and IFC teams will tackle is to provide technology-driven, easy to understand, user-friendly remote banking services for the country, regardless of location."
The initiative is part of IFC's four-year Electronic and Digital Financial Services Project, which supports innovation in regulation, policy and the transfer of international know-how to develop digital financial systems across several countries.
IFC—a 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 2020, we invested $22 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.
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 or www.eda.admin.ch/kyiv.
About Alif Bank
Alif Bank, founded in 2014 as microfinance institution, over the past seven years developing into one of the leading fintech companies in the country, offering its clients an ecosystem of technological and financial solutions. Supported by a wide range of banking technologies written in-house, today, Alif provides the most widely used finance app in the country (alif.mobi), is a clear leader in the POS (point-of-sale) financing and online B2C platform (alif.shop). As one of the current objectives of the company, Alif is also focusing on making remittances cheaper and faster in Tajikistan and beyond. For more information, visit www.alif.tj