IFC Invests in Mobile Money Firm Wave to Boost Access to Digital Financial Services in West Africa

To spur financial inclusion and support economic growth in Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire, global development institution, IFC has announced an investment in Wave Mobile Money S.A. (Senegal) and Wave Côte d’Ivoire S.A., mobile money firms that are helping lower prices and expand services in the region.

The investment from IFC and other lenders will help Wave substantially grow its operations in Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal, deepen its product offering, and expand its customer base for mobile money accounts and quality payment services.

IFC arranged a €90 million financing package, comprised of a €25 million loan from IFC’s own account, B Loans of a combined €41 million from Symbiotics, Blue Orchard, responsAbility, and Lendable, as well as parallel loans of €24 million from Finnfund and Norfund.

IFC’s partnership with Wave will help meet the growth in demand for digital payments and mobile money in West Africa in part spurred by the COVID-19 crisis. Access to digital financial services remains limited in the region with only 24 percent of active mobile money accounts compared to 34 percent in East Africa in 2020.

“Wave’s vision of making Africa the first cashless continent, by building affordable and user-centric solutions, matches IFC’s ambitions of universal financial inclusion,” said Coura Sene, Wave Mobile Money’s Regional Director for the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU). “This investment by IFC and other lenders helps us offer a diversity of financial products, encouraging users to stay within the formal financial sector, deepening financial inclusion in the region.”

“Supporting access to financial services for low-income, unbanked populations is a key priority for IFC,” said Aliou Maiga, IFC’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “Our investment in Wave will not only promote inclusive finance, but it will also significantly contribute to further advance digital economy solutions in West Africa.”

In addition to helping to finance the companies’ operations, IFC’s support will help establish a mobile money environment where customers are able to transact more often thanks to a simple fee structure and lower transaction costs. This will foster higher frequency of transactions, new payment methods, and growing overall value of payments processed by the users, particularly among lower-income customers.

In September 2021, IFC invested $5 million as a co-investment with Partech Africa as part of the Series A funding round in Wave Mobile Money Holdings Inc.

IFC has invested or mobilized more than $1.25 billion in the African technology ecosystem over the past six years.

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