Now reading: Antonia Esser

Antonia Esser

Antonia, who has a keen interest and wide knowledge base in payments, has been part of the team since April 2016. Her main areas of research in payments include instant and inclusive retail payment systems, remittances regulation and infrastructure, national and regional payment systems setup and regulation, central bank digital currencies, as well as regulation for innovation. She is particularly interested in financial inclusion challenges in remittances and in exploring related avenues for improvement. She is co-leading Cenfri’s two-year Remittance Access Initiative with IFAD. As part of this initiative, we are providing customer due diligence and KYC process technical assistance to 13 remittance service providers across seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Antonia has also been involved in in-depth research around insurtech and country-level financial sector diagnostics for the ECOWAS countries and Mauritania, Eswatini, Rwanda, Senegal, Zambia, Nigeria, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Madagascar and the DRC. Antonia is a regular on the speaking circuit for digital payments and digital economy conferences such as the Global Digital Development Forum, the SWIFT African Regional Conference and the Global Money Transfer Summit

Her background is in credit, in particular micro-loans. Before Cenfri, Antonia worked in Tzaneen, Limpopo, as a project manager for South Africa’s largest pro-poor microfinance organisation, the Small Enterprise Foundation (SEF). Operating in rural and poor areas of the country, she oversaw SEF’s financial education programme. She also led a pilot on the potential transformation from joint to individual liability and designed a Financial Diaries project together with the University of Johannesburg and Bankable Frontier Associates to better understand the impact of credit on a client’s life.

  • Master’s in international trade, finance and development, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics
  • Bachelor’s in economics, University of Birmingham


Recent Work by Antonia Esser
Supporting the development of a digital finance index
Digital financial services are transforming global financial service provision and access. Rapid developments in fintech are disrupting and transfo...
The untold realities of women cross-border traders
A diagnostic study on women cross-border traders between South Africa and Lesotho, Malawi and Mozambique​ ...
State of instant and inclusive payment systems in Africa
  Real-time retail payments that enable consumers to send and receive cross-border and domestic transactions digitally are on the rise ...
Understanding CBDC and its application in emerging markets
Central banks have cited several reasons for considering or piloting central bank digital currencies (CBDC). These inclu...
CBDC for emerging markets: realities and expectations
Cenfri has deepened its work on CBDC amid growing interest from central banks ...