Finance for Refugees: The State of Play

A new paper called ‘Finance for refugees: the state of play’ provides a brief overview of the global potential market scope of refugees, and review the progress to improve access to finance by refugees in the past few years. Remaining barriers are briefly described, including policy clarity, relevant information, legal barriers, and funding.

Finance for Refugees: The State of Play

Today’s refugees are as diverse as the conflicts and disasters that displace them, but the media often paints a homogenous picture of asset-less, relief-dependent victims in forlorn camps. For a vast majority of refugees, research does not support this picture. Rather, there is evidence that a well-integrated refugee community contributes directly and in positive ways to the national economy, is economically diverse, and is far from dependent on international aid. However, refugees still face many barriers in getting access to finance, but initiatives focussing on refugees are also on the rise. 

Recent focus on refugees in some areas of the world has led to initiatives by stakeholders to increase visibility, registration, data sharing, and access to services by refugees and the financial institutions considering them as customers. An ecosystem is emerging, and financial inclusion of refugees has increased, even if uptake among Financial Service Providers (FSPs) remains subdued. 

In order to develop more inclusive financial markets it is necessary to address the specific constraints in each context that prevent an efficient match between demand and supply of financial services, limiting access, use and quality of available services. While legal and policy barriers remain, the biggest constraint to increased financial inclusion of refugees is a familiarity gap between refugees and FSPs, fuelled by ingrained stereotypes and preconceived ideas. This is mainly due to the fact that many FSPs continue to be constrained by a lack of (easy) access to the information, guidance and support needed to identify, assess, and potentially serve refugees as customers. 

About the paper
The paper “Finance for Refugees: the state of play” is a publication of Platform for Inclusive Finance and is supported by - among others - ICCO Cooperation. 
Read the paper

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