Digital Financial Services Specialist

United Nations Development Programme

Kabul, Afghanistan

Experience: 0 to 3 Years

Skill Required: Accounts and Finance

UNCDF is the UN’s capital investment agency for the world’s 46 least developed countries. With its capital mandate and instruments, UNCDF offers “last mile” finance models that unlock public and private resources, especially at the domestic level, to reduce poverty and support local economic development.

UNCDF’s financing models work through two channels: financial inclusion that expands the opportunities for individuals, households, and small businesses to participate in the local economy, providing them with the tools they need to climb out of poverty and manage their financial lives; and by showing how localized investments — through fiscal decentralization, innovative municipal finance, and structured project finance — can drive public and private funding that underpins local economic expansion and sustainable development.

By strengthening how finance works for poor people at the household, small enterprise, and local infrastructure levels, UNCDF contributes to SDG 1 on eradicating poverty and SDG 17 on the means of implementation. By identifying those market segments where innovative financing models can have transformational impact in helping to reach the last mile and address exclusion and inequalities of access, UNCDF contributes to a number of different SDGs.

UNCDF’s Inclusive Digital Economies in Asia:

Since 2012, UNCDF has been supporting digital finance in Asia with significant success, with digital finance currently the largest part of its inclusive finance portfolio. This includes digital innovations linked to on an off-grid energy, agriculture, employment, health, and transport.  Through its current  “Leaving no one behind in the digital era” strategy, UNCDF is supporting, the emergence of inclusive digital economies in Asia as well as globally. The strategy recognizes that reaching the full potential of digital financial inclusion in support of the SDGs aligns with the vision of promoting digital economies for the following reasons:

The value of DFS is not obvious, especially to poor and vulnerable populations, as it is not closely linked to their ability to respond to their specific constraints and needs around agriculture, education, health, energy, and other key aspects of their daily lives.
New innovative services should be developed to address these unmet needs. Innovation will not come from traditional providers but mainly from a range of new players (entrepreneurs, start-ups in various sectors, and digital platforms).
The ‘Leaving no one behind in the digital era’ strategy, to move from digital finance to digital economies builds upon and constitutes a logical integration of UNCDF interventions in financial inclusion and digital, developed over many years. 

UNCDF LDC Investment Platform (LDCIP):

The LDC Investment Platform– through grants, reimbursable grants, loans, and guarantees – provides seed funding to investments in LDCS that are deemed too small or too risky by traditional investors. This works to de-risk and “prime the pump” for domestic and foreign investors to participate in local initiatives.

This platform allows the greatest flexibility for UNCDF to apply the optimal funding instrument for each business need, and to crowd in domestic and international investment.

The primary development objective is to increase the number and sustainability of new and existing financially viable, innovative development initiatives, through UNCDF programmes and projects.

It encourages public and private investors to supply investment financing for the consolidation and scale-up of economic initiatives with a proven development impact.

UNCDF in Afghanistan

UNCDF, in collaboration with UNDP, has been supporting the deployment of financial instruments and approaches in the Afghan banking and financial system to avoid its collapse. One of the activities aims to support digitization of aid disbursements.

Up to the end of 2022, the project has successfully completed pilots with 4 International non-governmental organizations (INGOs), tested 5 different digital payment solutions from 5 different financial services providers, digitally disbursed over USD 280,000 to almost 3,000 beneficiaries (31% women), minimized transaction processing time from 144 to 48 hours and saved costs of cash transfers by almost 30%. The project is currently in the process of onboarding 3 more INGOs and aims to go beyond the original target digitizing USD1M of transfers to almost 10,000 beneficiaries. In addition, the project is looking at expanding the potential of digital assets to reach last mile beneficiaries and at increasing the engagement with Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) so that they start using Afghanistan Payments System (APS) which will increase the convenience of digital payments for the end user as well as well as the affordability of the services.

The consultant will be tasked to provide technical inputs to the project and its ongoing implementation and expansion.

Duties and Responsibilities

 Objectives Of The Assignment

  • In the ongoing efforts, there is a need for a Digital Financial Services Expert to expand the ongoing work in digitizing payments, provide implementable recommendations to partners, and also work with in-country partners to implement the solutions.

Scope Of Work

Working under the direct supervision of the UNCDF Regional Manager for Asia the consultant will be producing the following deliverables:

Task Description

Target Due (Dates starting from signature of the contract)

Review and approval required

  • Provide technical assistance to UNDP partner INGOs in cash transfer digitization (including through digital assets) to get the aid disbursement to beneficiaries through digital payment rolling on the ground.
  • Technical assistance summary report provided on humanitarian aid disbursement. The report should cover the results in terms of outreach and disbursement volume as well as challenges, lessons learned and recommendations from the pilot

Regional Manager

  • Provide technical assistance to MNOs so that they start using APS increasing the convenience of digital payments for the end user as well as the affordability of the services.
  • Technical assistance and report on MNOs integration in APS finalized covering the proposed action plan as well as challenges, lessons learned and recommendations from the initiative

Regional Manager

  • Technically support the expansion of the project in the country by exploring additional funding opportunities to further digital payments, in close collaboration with UNDP Afghanistan
  • Concept notes and proposals for funders finalized highlighting potential opportunities for UNCDF to expand the work in the country, in close collaboration with UNDP Afghanistan

Regional Manager

  • Technically support work in other countries in the region to advance digital payments and digital financial services
  • Concept notes and proposals for funders finalized highlighting potential opportunities for UNCDF to expand the work in region

Duration Of Assignment, Duty Station And Expected Places Of Travel

Duty station and expected places of travel:  Kabul with possible travel to other provinces of Afghanistan

  • Any travel will be paid separately by UNCDF following the UNCDF Travel policies and should not be included as part of the financial proposal of the applicant. As a matter of policy, travels of consultants in UNCDF are based on economy class and any cost above such standard shall be borne by the consultant. 

Provision Of Monitoring And Progress Controls

  • The consultant will work under the direct supervision of the UNCDF Regional Manager for the Digital Hub for Asia in Bangkok and in close collaboration with other relevant colleagues, international consultant/experts and/or institutions designated by the UNCDF Regional Manager.
  • The consultant will have frequent communication during the contract with the Regional Office in Bangkok via email and skype, for coordination and guidance purposes, ensuring consultants’ output quality and targets.

The Consultant is responsible for providing his/her own laptop during the course of his/her engagement with UNCDF.

  • The following supporting documents will serve as conditions for payments to an Individual Contractor(s): (i) submission of Certificate of Payment (COP); (ii) submission of all deliverables / workplan / progress report with the relevant supporting documentation; and (iii) review, approval and written acceptance of each deliverable by the UNCDF Regional Manager for Digital Hub for Asia and any other Project/Programme Manager designated by UNCDF Regional Manager

Required Skills and Experience


  • A Master’s degree in IT, business, economics, finance or related discipline

Professional Experience:

  • A minimum of 2 years of professional experience in digital payments, financial services, fintech, financial inclusion or a related field is mandatory
  • A minimum of 2 years of experience in implementation of innovative payment methods (e.g., digital financial services, prepaid cards, fintech solutions, e-commerce, contactless, card alternatives, e-money, digital currencies)   is mandatory
  • At least 3 years of previous experience in Asia Region is mandatory
  • At least 3 years of experience in Afghanistan is mandatory
  • Previous experience engaging with UN Agencies in humanitarian assistance is preferred

Language Requirements:

  • Fluency in English (Speaking, Reading, Writing) is mandatory. Fluency in Pashto or Dari is desirable.