Advancing financial inclusion and economic opportunity through technology

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Published

13 January, 2024

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Member spotlight

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The advancement of modern technology has enabled seamless access to financial services for customers in developed economies. However, limited infrastructure and services hinder similar access for those in developing markets.

In Southeast Asia, it is estimated that around 225 million people lack access to a financial account while more than 350 million people do not have access to formal credit.

As a result, many financial services that are often taken for granted, for example, the receiving of salaries, payments or social benefits and even access to loans, paying bills and running small businesses, remain out of reach to a large proportion of the population.

Serving the unbanked across Southeast Asia

Ascend Money together with TrueMoney, both subsidiaries of Thailand’s C.P. Group, believe that technology has a powerful role to play in addressing financial disparities across the region and in creating positive societal impact in a way that fosters social mobility and alleviates poverty. Through financial application and a network of 88,000 registered agents, Ascend Money is able to provide financial services across Southeast Asia, including in Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia. The company creates an easy-accessible and effortless financial platform and network, so people have a lower entry barrier to use various financial tools to improve their lives. The core driving force is to help improve the accessibility, affordability, and impact of financial services for people in the region.

Creating equitable access to essential banking services for all

In rural communities where a lack of proper banking infrastructure presents a significant challenge for people requiring basic banking services, Ascend and TrueMoney have established TrueMoney centres through partnerships with local shops, convenience stores, pharmacies, cafes, or even through street vendors to provide service locations that support transactions such as cash withdrawals, pre-paid credit top-ups, utility bill and phone bill payments and even facilitating cash pickup from overseas remittances. Most of TrueMoney agents are local entrepreneurs and shop owners who want to make ends meet. Besides gaining more income, they have played a vital part in helping people in their community to access easy, safe and transparent transactions.

The World Bank estimates that remittance flows to low and middle-income countries worldwide are estimated to grow by 1.4% to $656 billion in 2023. Many in developing countries are dependent on remittances from families working abroad as an important source of income – this is particularly true for those living in harder to reach rural locations. In cash-strapped times, such remittances can act as a lifeline in meeting basic needs, from purchasing food, to funding education and accessing healthcare. TrueMoney centers and agents therefore provide a hassle-free option for families to collect such remittances from abroad.

Fueling economic growth through nano credit

In developing countries, access to nano-credit and capital also opens the door for aspiring micro-level entrepreneurs. Traditional banks often deny small loan or credit applications due to difficulties in verifying creditworthiness. This lack of access to essential financial services hinders small business growth and limits the creation of new job opportunities. Limited finance options may also drive people to illegal lenders and loan sharks, leading them into debt traps.

Ascend Money aims to extend financial inclusion by offering small-dollar capital loans to empower businesses and individuals in rural communities. Through the TrueMoney app, individuals or small businesses can apply for loans of less than 10,000 baht (280USD) by just using their national ID. The loan approval and lending limits process is based on the applicants’ monthly payment track record, with the lending limit capped at four times the customer’s monthly mobile bill (not exceeding 10,000 baht). The streamlined loan application process can provide for practical and emergency needs such as working farming capital, labour for planting seasons, medical needs and more.

Empowering communities through technology

With a vision to improve livelihoods and quality of life, C.P. Group believes advancements in financial technology can empower communities to create better opportunities and build better lives. Through Ascend Money, C.P. Group is driving financial transformation through technology and innovation in changing the ways people access financial services each day.


This article first appeared on C.P. Group’s website on 12 January 2024.