Innovative digital technologies play a key role in advancing financial inclusion worldwide, and the rapid growth of ‘mobile money’ is an entry point for providing broader financial services to many low-income families. These opportunities and the new regulatory challenges were the theme of the Third GPFI/FSI Conference on Standard-Setting Bodies and Innovative Financial Inclusion, held in Basel, in 26-27 October.
Hosted by the Financial Stability Institute of the Bank for International Settlements, the conference brought together governments, regulators, supervisors and overseers, and global standard-setting bodies with the timely theme “New Frontiers in the Supervision and Oversight of Digital Financial Services.” Over two-days, participants examined ways to foster financial inclusion through innovation in digital finance while protecting consumers and financial stability.
The importance of this endeavour underpinned a call for collective action both at the domestic level and at the global level, as noted by BIS General Manager, Jaime Caruana in his welcoming remarks.
“Cooperation and collaboration have helped in identifying synergies, knowledge transfer, and improved compliance, while instilling good practices in our markets”, said Sosthenes Kewe in his keynote speech, Executive Director of the Financial Sector Deepening Trust of Tanzania.
Over the past seven years, G20 actions and the outreach to SSBs through the GPFI, “have explicitly demonstrated an understanding of the linkages among financial inclusion, stability, integrity, and consumer protection, as well as their contribution to inclusive economic growth”, noted Deputy Director General of the Financial Consumer Protection Bureau of the People’s Bank of China, Tianqi Sun. “Leading to the development of the G20 High-Level Principles for Digital Financial Inclusion” under the Chinese G20 Presidency.
A video released during the conference illustrated two country examples, where digital technologies are revolutionizing access to finance, connecting hundreds of millions of poor people worldwide to formal financial services for the first time. In Tanzania, ‘mobile money’ offered by mobile network operators allows poor households to transfer money, pay bills, store value safely in tiny amounts, and access credit. In China, the explosive growth of digital finance has broadened access to basic financial services, which has triggered a new regulatory framework designed to protect consumers using digital finance, seeking to foster innovation while limiting consumer risks.
Key documents, such as the agenda, press release, speeches and an issues paper on crowdfunding can be accessed below. These documents provide an overview of the rapid spread of technology that will continue to ‘drive change’ and bring much needed services to the world’s financially excluded, raising both challenges and opportunities in 2017 under the German G20 Presidency, and ”will still be with us at the time of the Fourth GPFI–FSI Conference in 2018, under the Argentinian G20 Presidency”, as noted in the closing remarks.
(Photo: Woman holding a mobile phone. Photo credit: Angaza).
(Photo: Woman holding a mobile phone at a grocery shop. Photo credit: Mercy Corps).