CBJ receives a $3 million grant to fund fintech for low-income Jordanians and Syrian refugees

The Central Bank of Jordan received a $3 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help fund a program designed to provide unbanked Jordanians and Syrian refugees with online financial services.

Maha M. Bahou, executive manager of the CBJ’s Domestic Payments and Banking Operations Department, said the Mobile Money for Resilience initiative aims to provide 178,000 people with a secure digital platform that will allow them to save and transfer money, pay utility bills, and apply for credit, all while improving the effectiveness of humanitarian cash transfer programs.

“The targeted segments are the poor Jordanians and the refugees, 90 percent of whom live outside of the camps. This means they have the same types of expenses and income like Jordanians, whether daily, weekly, or monthly,” Bahou said. “In this case we can provide both targeted segments with the facility needed to have a more appropriate a secure way to be within the formal financial sector.”

The initiative mainly targets low income Jordanians in Ma’an, Tafileh, Mafraq and Amman. It will be carried out by the CBJ, which is also planning on helping the targeted group with financial literacy and awareness campaigns, in cooperation with many NGOs involved in tackling the Syrian refugee crisis, including UNHCR, CARE, UNICEF, and Oxfam.

Jordan currently hosts over 655,000 Syrian refugees registered by the UNHCR. The initiative aims to raise up to $11 million over five years to scale up mobile money services in government and humanitarian agency cash transfer programs.