The Republic of Liberia is home to 4.4 million people, 83.8% of whom live below the international poverty line of US$1.25 per day. The country embarked on ambitious economic reforms after the end of the civil war in 2003 and experienced steady economic growth between 2005 and 2013. However, outbreak of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) epidemic in 2014, combined with the slump in iron ore rubber prices, brought economic activity to a standstill.
Despite the ongoing reforms, Liberia’s financial sector is shallow and remains vulnerable to political and economic instability. With nearly 51% of the population living in rural areas, poor infrastructure represents a major obstacle to the sector’s development. According to a survey conducted by CBL in 2015, only 28% of the country’s adult population is formally banked with 9 commercial banks with 87 branches across the country.
Presently there are two DFS operators in the country. The nascent sector faces many challenges, including; agent network penetration, liquidity management, customer awareness and adoption. Liquidity management is particularly a huge difficulty, especially in Liberia’s rural areas where the dual currency regime and limited banking footprint further exacerbates the problem.
Where We Are
What We Did So Far
MM4P began its activities in Liberia in 2012, working with the Central Bank of Liberia to revise the mobile money regulations that were approved in 2014. MM4P was also initiating projects with several stakeholders, which got delayed due to the travel and assembling restrictions imposed at the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). Subsequently, MM4P joined forces with the UN Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) and facilitated payments to Ebola Health Workers across the three affected countries, including Liberia.
In September 2015, MM4P conducted a second scoping mission and reengaged in Liberia with the placement of a Digital Finance Expert in Monrovia, through funding from USAID. Based on the findings, MM4P’s program is focused on supporting CBL accelerate the DFS ecosystem and working with providers to improve distribution channels and supporting digitizing of a range of payments using DFS.
In September 2016, MM4P launched a national Working Group on Digital Finance with the primary objective of providing a platform for collaboration among the different players in accelerating the development of the DFS ecosystem in Liberia.
What We Plan for 2019
- 10% active registered DFS users as percentage of adult population (total 289,200)
- Tiered know-your-customer (KYC), agent, customer protection enabling policy
- More collaborations in agro and tourism value chains
- Banking partners operating agency banking
- Partners meet and share experiences regularly
- Several transformative and competing services
- Financial services available (credit, insurance, savings)