27 May 2024

Helping disadvantaged groups to adopt digital financial services: lessons from Jordan

By Nour Khammash, Senior Knowledge and Business Analytics Specialist, and Dina Al Salhi, Communication Design and Knowledge Management Specialist, Jordan Payments & Clearing Company (JoPACC) 

In Jordan, the use of instant payment systems has grown steadily in recent years. That growth has been unevenly spread across society, however: women, rural communities, youth, and refugees are much less likely to use digital payments. 

Multiple factors are hindering the uptake of digital payment services among these groups. These include: 

  • Unfamiliarity – many people don’t know that mobile wallet services can be used for international money transfers, to issue payment cards, and to withdraw and deposit money.  
  • Lack of mobile money agents nearby, forcing potential customers to travel long distances to find an agent. 
  • A lack of trust in digital financial services, and a cultural preference for using cash.  
  • Need for English-language skills – for example, some apps and mobile wallets list payee names in English, rather than Arabic.  
  • Digital illiteracy – older generations may not be at ease downloading and using mobile apps. 


How can we close this digital access gap?  

A key objective of JoPACC’s strategy for 2023 – 2026 is to increase access to, adoption, and utilization of digital financial services among disadvantaged segments of society, including women, refugees, and youth.  

Through our Outreach Programs, we seek to raise financial literacy among underprivileged communities, build their understanding of digital financial services, and encourage them to use these services.  

A successful recent example saw JoPACC run digital payment training sessions for vendors at the National Olive Festival, a showcase for rural products which is attended by over 200,000 visitors annually. Hundreds of farmers, rural women, and local associations depend on Festival revenues to sustain them throughout the year. 

Between August and November 2023, JoPACC provided training for 255 Festival vendors which focused on how to receive payments via instant payments. Over six hours of training, participants learnt about: 

  • The features and benefits of digital payments 
  • Mobile wallets 
  • The CliQ Instant Payment System  
  • Electronic Bill Presentment and Payment service (eFAWATEERcom) 
  • Tips on using digital financial services 

JoPACC invited all wallet companies and merchant acquirers operating in Jordan to participate in the sessions. A leading mobile payment service provider, Orange Money, provided practical training to participants on the usage of mobile wallets.  

JoPACC provided transport and incentives for vendors to attend the training, and implemented an incentive program that encouraged them to use digital payment services during the festival period. 


What were the results? 

JoPACC visited the festival to assess the level of adoption of digital payments by festival vendors. A significant number of vendors were accepting digital payments, with many displaying signs indicating their acceptance of digital payments through aliases on CliQ/mobile wallets. 

Feedback from vendors was that the digital payment process via mobile wallets/ CliQ accounts was smooth and effortless. They reported an increase in income, thanks to an expanded customer base, and buyers who could make purchases even without having cash on hand.  

Vendors said they would use digital services more frequently, and would extend the range of their usage to include payment card issuance and bill payments. These first-time users therefore became advocates for digital payments, likely to encourage their peers to adopt these services.  


How can we achieve the widespread adoption of digital financial services? 

The Olive Festival Outreach Program is a great example of how such initiatives contribute to achieving this goal: it facilitated the uptake of digital payments by a group who were previously unaware of the benefits of digital financial services. While JoPACC is planning to conduct more similar sessions, these can only reach small numbers at one time. Getting underserved groups to adopt digital payment services en masse will require a more comprehensive approach.   

Above all, there is a need to incentivize and enable the utilization of digital financial services. That will involve eliminating or mitigating service fees, and ensuring payment agents are accessible to people living in remote areas.  

Achieving the widespread adoption of digital financial services among disadvantaged groups will take considerable, coordinated effort, but it is vital. Those currently excluded from digital services have less access to finance, must pay more to move and use cash, and have much less financial resilience. 

Society as a whole has much to gain from the rapid growth of digital financial services. We must now ensure that no group is left behind. 


This article has been adapted from a JoPACC report, Digitalizing Vendor Payments at the Olive Festival 2023.

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