Baku, Azerbaijan, November 6, 2019—The
World Bank Group, in a project led by IFC, signed an agreement today to
help spur the development of digital financial services in Azerbaijan,
part of an effort to fight poverty and drive economic growth in the country.
IFC, in partnership with the State Secretariat
for Economic Affairs of Switzerland SECO, will be working with the Azerbaijan
Banks Association, a national body that represents the country’s lenders.
IFC will advise the association on how to develop a suite of modern digital
financial services that will contribute to financial inclusion and modernization.
The collaboration aims to make it easier
for individuals and small businesses, especially those in rural areas without
bank branches, to set up savings accounts and secure loans. The project
will also help raise awareness of digital and electronic products. This
is important for Azerbaijan, where only 29 percent of people have an account
at a financial institution, well below the average for Europe and Central
Asia, according to the World Bank’s Financial Inclusion Data Global
“Technology has the potential to modernise
the way people in Azerbaijan access financial services,” said Zakir Nuriyev,
President of the Azerbaijan Association of Banks. “This partnership with
IFC will help local financial institutions develop industry-leading products,
allowing them to meet the fast-changing needs of their customers.”
The initiative, formally known as the Electronic
and Digital Financial Services Project, is part of the broader World Bank
Group strategy to help diversify Azerbaijan’s economy and spur economic
growth, in this case through support for electronic and mobile banking
services. Extending the reach of banking institutions to remote areas also
delivers on the future promise and potenial of digital banking.
“By giving small businesses and enterpreneurs
– especially those outside the oil sector – increased opportunities to
access financial services, we can help them expand and create jobs,” said
Aliya Azimova, IFC Country Representative in Azerbaijan. “That is key
to fighting poverty and building a sustainable economy in Azerbaijan driven
by non-oil private sector.”
The country recently introduced new rules
allowing customers to open accounts distantly. The novelties aim to extend
the reach of banking institutions in remote areas, helping Azerbaijan,
among other reformers in the area, further advance along the path to digital
Azerbaijan became a member of IFC in 1995.
Since then, IFC has invested around $473 million in the country, including
$73 million in mobilization. Those funds have financed 56 projects across
a range of sectors, including financial services, infrastructure, and manufacturing.
In addition, IFC has supported around $100 million in trade through its
trade finance program and provided $250 million for the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan
pipeline. IFC has also implemented a range of advisory projects aimed at
encouraging private sector growth.
About the World Bank Group
The World Bank Group is one of the world's
largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries. It comprises
five closely associated institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction
and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA),
which together form the World Bank; the International Finance Corporation
(IFC); the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA); and the International
Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Each institution
plays a distinct role in the mission to fight poverty and improve living
standards for people in the developing world. For more information, please
For more information about SECO, please