Citi Foundation and the Griffith Asia Institute (GAI), have announced a partnership with the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) and MSC (MicroSave Consulting) to conduct a major study in Indonesia and Bangladesh to gain a deeper understanding of how the digital divide impacts those at the base of the economic pyramid (BoEP) and to identify effective ways to promote adoption and usage of digital technology.
The research will provide important insights into the challenges encountered in creating inclusive digital economies at a broad level. More specifically, the findings will be used to develop targeted and impactful programs, policies, and strategies to bridge the digital divide and enable those at the BoEP to harness the digital economy more effectively to enhance their financial health and well-being.
The development and adoption of digital technologies have been major drivers of economic growth across the Asia Pacific. Propelled by the proliferation of smartphones and increased affordability of internet access, the region is experiencing accelerated economic evolution as more services get delivered through digital platforms. However, realising the full potential of the digital economy requires greater inclusion in the Asia-Pacific region, which is often characterised by extreme inequality.
There is a growing concern that increased investments into digital transformation could exacerbate inequalities, especially among those at the BoEP, which is predominantly represented by vulnerable groups such as women, youth, the elderly, and the disabled. Those without the skills or capabilities necessary to engage effectively with the digital economy are likely to be left behind.
Addressing this digital divide is critical to the overall performance of the digital economy and its subsequent impact on the economic growth and well-being of people at the BoEP. However, limited data prevents governments and development practitioners from understanding how those at the BoEP interact with the digital economy and what specific interventions are needed to positively impact their lives.
The project will focus on smartphone usage as a primary access point to the digital economy and the experiences people at the BoEP have with using their phones to conduct cashless financial transactions. It is expected that the research findings will have strong implications for developing policies to achieve more effective financial inclusion within the digital economy.
The project is being implemented as part of GAI’s Inclusive Growth Hub which functions as the Institute’s focal point for research and capacity-building activities designed to deliver positive economic outcomes for the poorest and most vulnerable segments of society across the Asia-Pacific region.
More information about the study is available here.