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Financial inclusion through digital channels and the growth-inequality-poverty triangle: Evidence from Africa

Wale-Awe, Olawale and Evans, Olaniyi (2023): Financial inclusion through digital channels and the growth-inequality-poverty triangle: Evidence from Africa. Published in: Nigerian Journal of Banking and Financial Issues , Vol. 9, No. 2 (2023): pp. 53-68.

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This study investigates the causal relationship between digital financial inclusion (DFI) and the growth-inequality-poverty triangle in a panel of 42 African countries for the period 1995 to 2018. Simultaneous-equations models, the two-step system generalized method of moments (GMM) versus the default one-step approach, and Toda Yamamoto causality test are used to investigate this relationship. The main results provide evidence that digital financial inclusion has significant negative effects on poverty and inequality, but significant positive effects on growth of GDP per capita, implying that increase in DFI is associated with reduction in poverty and inequality, but increase in economic growth. The implication is that DFI can promote economic growth, as well as alleviate poverty and stem the tide of inequality. The empirical results further show that there is unidirectional causality flowing from DFI to growth and inequality while bi-directional causality exists between DFI and poverty. Interestingly, there is bi-directional causality between growth and inequality, growth, and poverty, as well as between inequality and poverty. Overall, the findings imply that improving digital access to financial services across the continent is essential to increasing income levels, alleviating poverty, and aiding more even distribution of income. Future studies can improve on the extant literature by exploring whether the established findings withstand empirical analysis within country-specific settings.

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