INTRODUCING | Stellar and PwC Launch a Financial Inclusion Framework to Assess and Judge Blockchain Projects in Emerging Markets

The framework was developed by analyzing 12 blockchain applications operating in Colombia, Argentina, Kenya, and the Philippines.

The Stellar Development Foundation, the entity responsible for developing the Stellar network, has introduced a financial inclusion framework designed to assess the effectiveness of emerging blockchain projects in emerging markets.

The financial inclusion framework was developed through a collaboration with the consulting firm PriceWaterHouse Coopers International (PwC).

PwC was commissioned by the Stellar Development Foundation to develop a global financial inclusion framework (“the Framework”) to understand and assess the factors that render services or products financially inclusive. Financial inclusion is context dependent, with the specific needs and barriers of financially underserved varying by region and demographics. The Framework provides a flexible way to assess how a financial solution contributes to financial inclusion in that specific local context. The Framework also identifies ‘value parameters’ – the main criteria that help determine how well a financial solution fosters financial inclusion.

One of the main areas of focus concerns blockchain developers who claim that their products can contribute to ‘financial inclusion.’ Making this claim has proven to be an effective strategy for some Web3 projects seeking funding, as it aligns with broader goals of addressing financial disparities and extending access to financial services.

Some of the African blockchain projects listed that have gotten funding so far based on this idea include:


Nonetheless, Stellar and PwC contend in the report that the absence of a structured assessment framework can lead to the ineffectiveness of projects aimed at improving financial inclusion.

“As with any technological innovation, the need for robust governance and responsible design principles are key to successful implementation,” says the framework report.


The framework comprises four key elements:

  • Access
  • Quality
  • Trust
  • Usage

with each of these components further subdivided. For instance, within the ‘access’ category, there are sub-categories including affordability, connectivity, and ease of initiation.

Every description of a sub-parameter includes a suggested method for its assessment. For instance, Stellar and PwC offer count of CICO [cash in/cash out] locations within the designated target population area’ as a means to gauge the ‘connectivity’ aspect.

The purpose behind this approach is to enable projects to quantifiably measure their efficacy, replacing guesswork with a more scientific and precise evaluation.The teams also proposed a structured four-phase assessment process that projects should follow to address financial inclusion challenges effectively:

  • Initially, the project should define a solution, identify the target population, and determine the relevant jurisdiction
  • In the second phase, the project should pinpoint the obstacles preventing the target population from accessing financial services
  • Moving on to the third phase, they should utilize ‘level charts and guidance’ to identify the primary impediments to user onboarding
  • Lastly, they should implement solutions that prioritize the key parameters to maximize the efficient allocation of resources

Based on the framework, conventional financial applications typically impose fees ranging from 2.7% to 3.5% for transferring money between the United States and the examined markets while blockchain-based solutions charged 1% or lower for the same transactions.

This was determined through an analysis of 12 applications operating in:

  • Colombia
  • Argentina
  • Kenya, and
  • The Philippines

Interestingly, interviews with blockchain solution providers and subject matter experts in emerging and developing markets above confirmed that building trust is the most critical challenge they face in increasing usage. Today, this is in part reflected by some solutions displaying:

  • A lack of disclosures and poor corporate governance
  • Limited time in market resulting in poor usage
  • Inconsistent data collection practices rather than the inherent capabilities of a public blockchain network

According to PwC, it may take time and additional support for companies building on blockchain to establish an ecosystem of stakeholders that can foster local and institutional trust.



Here is an FAQ summary of the framework:


  • What does the Framework do and who is it for?

Financial inclusion is very context dependent, with the composition of the financially underserved and their specific inclusion needs varying across regions and demographics. Every financially underserved population faces distinct needs and obstacles. For some, a low cost payment solution is the most pressing need, while for others, a savings solution in their language is what they require. The Framework therefore is designed to be flexible to recognize that inclusion challenges and the factors that render services or products financially inclusive differs across populations.

The Framework provides a methodology to assess the capabilities of a financial solution to enhance its social handprint for specific financially underserved populations. The assessment aims to assess how well a solution meets the needs of a specific financially underserved population. It uses ‘value parameters’ – or the main criteria that determine how well a financial solution fosters financial inclusion. It then identifies gaps within specific parameters in order to prioritize areas for improvement. The assessment also provides options for quantitative metrics related to financial inclusion that can be used
to measure progress or relative performance with similar solutions. The metrics can also be used to assess a solution’s potential contribution to national or global financial inclusion goals.


The primary audience for the Framework are companies and institutions providing financial services or products (“financial solutions”), particularly those using blockchain technology. These companies may be interested in considering financial inclusion as part of their overall mission, or as a means to serve new customers and markets, or as part of an effort to assess whether existing products and services are addressing financial inclusion needs.


  • What are the key dimensions and parameters of value that determine a solution’s ability to foster financial inclusion?

Access, quality, trust and usage determine the ability of the solution to foster financial inclusion. Based on a review of the existing literature and evaluation of financial solution products, Table 6 below shows the dimensions of financial inclusion, and the parameters of value for each dimension.

The parameters of value indicate key areas where a solution’s potential contribution to financial inclusion can be assessed and measured. Financial solutions can be assessed according to each parameter, and performance measured over time (depending on available data).


  • What are the steps in conducting a capability assessment?

The key steps of the assessment focus on identifying and addressing gaps in a financial solution’s ability to meet the needs of a target population. Each financially underserved population(s) faces unique challenges to financial inclusion. The assessment provides a process for identifying these challenges of the target population, the enabling environment, and gaps in current financial solutions on the market. The assessment then looks at how well the solution meets a specific need (e.g., use case) for the target population, and how well it overcomes the unique barriers identified.

The assessment assigns levels for each value parameter based on how well it meets the needs of the target population. For each value parameter, a level is assigned from 1-4 based on the parameter and the type of data available, with “4” the highest score. Some parameters may be judged based against objective criteria (e.g., security). Other parameters may be judged based on how it performs relative to other solutions on the market (e.g., speed of use).


  • What are the outputs of the capability assessment?

The assessment provides priorities for companies to improve existing or new solutions and metrics to measure progress. After highlighting and prioritizing parameters with relevant gaps, companies can then develop detailed action plans to address gaps and select metrics to measure progress. Over time, this should improve the usage of their solution within a target population.


Download / Read the full framework.




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