Lack of proximity has long been identified as an obstacle to sustained take-up – and sustained use – of formal financial services. Through this decade, funding and specialist skillsets have been deployed to more fully scope the problem. Public bodies have also kept proximity on their agenda, urging banks to open branches in rural districts, adapting regulatory provisions for second- and third-tier rural finance providers and, more recently, creating space for innovative digital finance solutions.
Efforts by financial service providers to address the 'proximity gap' however, have been hampered by a shortage of useful, practical information on how to close it. This report outlines both the challenges and some possible ways forward.