Gates Foundation helps UPU support partnerships

18.05.2011 - A grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will enable the UPU to explore how to extend access to financial services to the poor through postal networks.

Nearly 700,000 USD will fund work on how Posts can enter into partnerships with financial institutions and mobile-money operators to better serve the underprivileged, the exchange of know-how among stakeholders and initiating pilot projects.

Given the increasing attention the UPU has recently paid to financial inclusion, the organization is the right partner for this project, says Tamara Cook, the Foundation’s programme officer.

“The UPU is the historical convener of all things postal as a United Nations agency that pre-dates the UN’s establishment. The timing is ripe to bolster the UPU’s internal capacity as an advisor to Posts considering new models to leverage their infrastructure as cash-in and out points for financial institutions and mobile-money providers,” Cook said.

Welcoming the grant, the UPU’s director general, Edouard Dayan, thanked the foundation for supporting the UN agency’s work on financial inclusion.

“These funds will enable much needed research into how and which postal institutions can play a key role in opening up financial services further to the poor,” Dayan said.

“This collaboration highlights the UPU’s important contribution to international efforts to fight poverty and foster economic and social development,” he added.

Worldwide reach

The UPU is an ideal partner to open up access to financial services to the world’s most disadvantaged people. Today, some 1.5 billion people worldwide are already using their local post office for financial services. Among them are 400 million individuals holding postal accounts, predominantly in developing countries.

The UPU’s global network contains 660,000 postal outlets staffed by 5.5 million employees. Its presence in rural areas is unmatched by any other logistical or banking network, with 500,000 branches in developing countries alone.

Posts also look back on a long tradition of providing financial services. The first postal savings back was created in 1861 in Great Britain.  The first UPU Act on international postal money orders was signed in 1878. It was updated at the 2008 UPU Congress to help Posts provide secure electronic money transfers, boosting consumer protection and data confidentiality.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Financial Services for the Poor initiative is working with a wide range of public and private partners to harness technology and innovation to bring quality, affordable, and safe savings accounts and other financial services to the poor in the developing world.

Financial services


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  1. Dirk at 19.01.2016
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