Migrants—roughly four percent of the world’s population—are a vast addressable market for financial services of all kinds. Serving that market profitably and effectively requires first understanding their lives: their circumstances, their families’ circumstances, their preferences, their long-term goals. Because remittance patterns are gendered and women and men migrants live different economic and social realities, we take on a gender lens in understanding their lives.

It is also important to understand the business realities on the supply side. At more than half a trillion dollars annually, remittances are a big business—but a complicated one. Remittance service providers have multiple and complex challenges around cash management, low average transaction sizes, foreign exchange risks, and customers who may have limited financial capabilities or access to services, because of their gender. Remittance providers must also devote considerable resources to compliance with multiple sets of regulations. And in many remittance corridors, the persistence of unregulated, informal channels crowds out providers who could potentially, by accelerating the shift away from cash and toward digital, greatly increase remittances’ safety and transparency.

UNCDF invests and crowds-in investment partners to test new business models and services. We work closely with mobile network operators, banks, nonbank financial services providers, postal networks and others, providing financial resources, technical assistance, and promoting knowledge-sharing. Our goal is to support business models not only to scale digital and gender-smart remittance channels but also for the full range of inclusive remittance-linked financial services (savings, credit, insurance, investments, pensions) that can strengthen financial resilience of migrants and their families.

For financial service providers, serving migrants effectively also requires confidence that the necessary regulatory and other market conditions will be in place. UNCDF is bringing financial service providers together with policymakers and regulators for peer learning exchanges and capacity building. It is important for them to understand each other’s priorities and constraints—and for both groups to understand women and men migrants’ financial and non-financial needs.

UNCDF’s teams includes former executives from some of the world’s leading money transfer companies. We understand the incentives and the constraints that shape providers’ business decisions.

We provide financial and technical assistance to a range of financial service providers in multiple markets, working with each to identify business and customer needs, and helping to design, pilot and scale up solutions. Along with grants, UNCDF delivers world-class technical assistance.

  • Product Research.  Sharing market research and knowledge to deepen partners’ understanding of migrants’ behaviors, needs, constraints, and aspirations. This also includes the collection of sex-disaggregated data, providing transaction data analysis and training to the business teams.
  • Product design. Providing human-centered design and gender analysis expertise to better understand the customer journey—physical and financial—for better product design tailored to the needs of men and women migrants and their families.
  • Provisioning. Providing technical assistance to help design, pilot, deploy, and scale up inclusive and appropriate solutions for impact. Technical assistance is provided by digital finance and remittance experts who are experienced in gender-smart product design, business model development and go-to-market strategies in some of the most challenging markets in Africa and Asia.
  • Partnerships. Facilitating strategic partnerships with stakeholders—including cross-border payment hubs, mobile network operators, financial institutions, and non-bank financial institutions—to enable partners to share experiences and good practices and reach last-mile customers, and to grow sustainably.
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