Fair Finance

In recent years, financial services have undergone a digital revolution, reshaping the way we spend, save and manage our money. Digital financial services offer an exciting catalyst for financial inclusion, with increased accessibility, more efficient and cheaper transactions, easier personal financial management, as well as promising opportunities for sustainability.

But new technologies, and the potential emergence of a cashless society, present new risks for consumers. These include scams, fraud, phishing, and data malpractice - and low-income women and rural populations are particularly vulnerable. Moreover, many consumers are shut out from the benefits of digital financial services, with 2.9 billion people still offline

We work with our Members, regulators, stakeholders and decision-makers at the highest level to ensure consumer protection keeps pace with transformations in financial services, in turn unlocking financial inclusion and protection for consumers across the world.


In 2022, we brought together our global Membership of 200+ consumer groups in over 100 countries to set out the actions needed to build fair digital finance for all, developing a Consumer Vision for Fair Digital Finance.

Together, we drew a vision for a digital financial marketplace that is inclusive, safe, data protected and private, and sustainable for everyone.

Building financial inclusion and resilience is vital for thriving communities and economies. We want digital finance products and services that help us alleviate poverty, avoid debt, create jobs, grow health and wealth and help us plan for the future in a sustainable way. Digital finance services can help in many ways. But it will take effort.

To maximise the benefits and prevent consumers being harmed, consumer associations, government, industry and civil society organisations must work together to create a fair, safe and sustainable marketplace for all.




All consumers deserve access to a fair digital finance marketplace. But in a survey of our Members across low-and middle-income countries, 45% reported that digital finance service policies in their country are unsatisfactory, and a further 45% called for ‘extensive improvements’. Only 6% considered the digital financial services regulatory framework in their country to be ‘good’.

To turn our Consumer Vision for Fair Digital Finance into action, Consumers International founded the Fair Digital Finance Accelerator.

Bringing together consumer advocates from over 60 countries and counting, the Accelerator is a unique and proactive community of practice of consumer associations in low- and middle-income countries

The Accelerator strengthens digital finance regulation and solutions, builds engagement with governments and stakeholders, and empowers consumer advocates to champion a safe, fair, and sustainable digital finance marketplace. Through the programme, Consumers International offers Members access to training, grants to support innovation and insight generation, and a global network of financial service consumer advocates and experts.

The Fair Digital Finance Accelerator is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with support from the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP).


Building the Consumer Voice for Digital Finance

The digital financial ecosystem has become increasingly complex, with new technologies like AI and blockchain, new actors like digital platforms and fintech companies, and new business models across payments, wealth management, lending, crowdfunding, capital markets and insurance services. Digital finance ecosystems are being built in economies around the world with very different characteristics, depending on whether the impetus for growth comes primarily from government intervention, from banks, technology or telecommunications players.

Consumer protection frameworks and systems have not kept up with these surging levels of complexity. They no longer work to inform, protect and empower consumers effectively. As a result, consumers are subject to significantly increased risks, such as fraud and scams, which then reduce consumer trust and stall progress. This is particularly the case for lower income consumers, women, and other categories of consumers with systemic vulnerabilities.

In all this, and exacerbating these issues, the voice of consumers, and in particular, the voice of vulnerable consumers is not being systemically accounted for as the market transforms. Consumer advocates worldwide share that only 20% are included in deliberations about design of new technologies in their country. This lack of voice means that risks for vulnerable consumers in digital finance are not effectively addressed or anticipated, and solutions are not effectively designed for the people they are intended to serve. The potential of digital finance to create wellbeing is being held back.

Building the Consumer Voice for Digital Finance is a dedicated multistakeholder initiative, supported by Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, to explore models of digital finance which improve protection and empowerment for vulnerable consumers; and elevate their voice as the digital financial system continues to be shaped.

The initiative will develop:

  • Insight on the latest trends and opportunities in consumer protection and empowerment for vulnerable consumers with best practice from select countries.
  • the best approaches to engage and support vulnerable consumers and unique perspectives from vulnerable consumers.
  • Recommendations on best practice in consumer protection and empowerment looking forward from the perspective of consumer advocacy for vulnerable consumers


We assess and take action on key areas of risk to consumers in digital finance.

Transparent digital finance

The digitalisation of financial services presents a unique chance to build better services for consumers. There is an opportunity for digital finance to help consumers take control of their financial lives. This will result in greater resilience for individuals and communities, and better outcomes for consumers. 

This opportunity is being missed – especially when it comes to transparency. Our Members around the world are increasingly concerned that opaque, misleading and inaccessible information in digital finance is causing harm to consumers.  

That is why we have launched a global campaign for transparent digital finance. We have brought together an alliance of 30+ leading industry, regulator and consumer voices to call for urgent action to improve consumer understanding and trust in digital finance services through greater transparency. 


In 2022, we brought global attention to the rapid rise of Buy Now Pay Later products. 

What is Buy Now Pay Later? 

Buy Now Pay Later products extend credit, typically with interest, to consumers to pay for goods and services over time. The provider typically covers the cost of the goods or services, and asks its customer to pay back the amount in instalments. 

Why are consumer advocates concerned?

  • People becoming trapped into cycles of debt and financial difficulty. In many countries, Buy Now Pay Later products are designed to avoid the laws that regulate other forms of credit - and are not required to conduct checks on consumers' ability to repay.
  • Buy Now Pay Later debts are getting bigger. Consumer advocates are concerned about the increased use of these products to pay for essentials, such as food or energy. 
  • Sustainability concerns. Buy Now Pay Later can encourage over-consumption in areas such as fast fashion.

During World Consumer Rights Day 2022, Consumers International, alongside 11 of our Members in nine countries, called for action from governments to ensure that consumers are protected against the growing risks of Buy Now Pay Later. The call saw countries such as Australia making commitments to regulation. In 2023, we will explore how we can take this further - securing protection for consumer globally. 


In Sub-Saharan Africa, the recent expansion in account ownership can largely be attributed to the adoption of mobile money, with 33% of adults owning a mobile money account. 

Mobile finance can reach groups who have traditionally been excluded from the financial system, and offer a solution to poor technological and physical infrastructure. However, in many countries the regulation of mobile financial services is struggling to keep up with new developments. 

We work with international organisations such as the OECD and the UN to enhance consumer protection at the intersection of e-commerce and financial technology. 

ISO 12812: A new international standard for mobile financial services

Ahead of its publication in 2015, we collaborated with a range of stakeholders as part of an ISO working group to develop a new international standard for mobile financial services: ISO 12812 Core banking – mobile financial services.

Our influence:

  • We ensured acknowledgement of challenges brought by new technologies as well as traditional services. 
  • We fought for limits on consumer liability for unauthorised or fraudulent use of their payment systems.
  • We secured greater transparency in remittances sent between countries, plus important safeguards on logging transactions and receipts. 
  • Our intervention addressed the treatment of dormant assets in the event of death, a major issue in regions like Sub-Saharan Africa where many consumers do not have individual mobile phone contracts.  

Amplifying Consumer Experiences of Digital Finance

Consumers International represents the consumer voice in dialogue with business, government and others:   


Keep an eye on our work via Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook as we share more about our participation at major events.

Watch our Fair Digital Finance Accelerator launch event, where we laid out the opportunity we see for a consumer-focussed regulatory environment in digital finance and discussed how we can bring this into reality through consumer advocacy.  


Digital finance: The consumer experience in 2024

February 2024

Our annual financial sector index provides an assessment of the state of digital financial services in low- and middle-income countries.

In its second year, this offers a unique perspective, derived from the vantage point of consumers themselves. It emphasises the need for a mindset shift in the sector, greater collaboration, and the critical role of consumer organisations in driving this change. 

You can download the full report in English. French and Spanish versions available shortly.





Digital finance: The consumer experience in 2023

January 2023

Our inaugural index of the consumer experience digital financial services evaluates the pain-points facing consumers, and provides a route map for regulators, consumer associations, and market actors to take action

In 2023, the total index score came in at just 40 out of 100. 

You can download the full report in English. French and Spanish versions available shortly.





Banking on the future

July 2017

Financial technology, or FinTech, is reshaping the financial services sector as we know it.

From driving greater competition within the industry to widening access to core financial services for consumers without a basic bank account, FinTech has the potential to deliver many positive outcomes for consumers.

There are however, a number of risks and consumer detriments are emerging from FinTech, including issues around privacy, cybercrime and gaps in regulation.

Our report; Banking on the future: an exploration of FinTech and the consumer interest, explores how and why FinTech is transforming financial services markets, and takes an in-depth look at the challenges and opportunities for consumers.

You can download a summary of the report in English, French, Spanish and Arabic. Click below to download the full report in English.





Mobile Finance  

January 2014

As more people make transactions using their phone, tablet or computer it is important that we can be sure these payments are secure and our consumer rights are fully protected.   

Our 2014 briefing paper on mobile payments set out the main consumer protection issues with paying money through our phones.