From 2009 to 2020, the Smart Campaign was a global initiative led by CFI that worked to create an environment in which financial services are delivered safely and responsibly to low-income clients. The Campaign developed the first global financial consumer protection standard, established a rigorous certification program to validate practices by financial service providers, produced consumer protection research, and convened partners to effect change. Over the course of the program more than 135 financial institutions, collectively serving more than 62 million low-income clients in 42 countries, were certified for adhering to the Smart Campaign’s Client Protection Standards.
In 2020, development of the Client Protection Standards and management of their implementation was transferred to long-time partners SPTF and CERISE. The Smart Campaign’s Client Protection Standards are integrated into the Universal Standards for Social Performance Management (USSPM) managed by SPTF and continue to guide financial service providers to implement better consumer protection practices. The wealth of financial service provider-focused implementation tools are maintained by SPTF and CERISE and are publicly available via their Social Performance Knowledge Hub.
As providers increasingly began to digitalize, the Smart Campaign launched research initiatives to understand consumer risks in digital financial services, focusing specifically on digital credit products. As a part of this initiative the Smart Campaign consulted digital providers through the Fintech Protects Community of Practice and piloted new benchmarks for responsible practice with the help MFR and M-CRIL. These efforts culminated in updated industry guidance and the Client Protection Standards for Digital Credit.
In addition to research and standards initiatives, the Smart Campaign launched the Smart Certification program in 2013. Smart Certification was a cornerstone of the Campaign’s efforts to benchmark providers against common standards and incentivize the improvement of consumer protection practices. The Smart Campaign acted as the certification manager and relied on licensed Certification Bodies to carry out consumer protection missions. The seven Certification Bodies licensed at the time of the Smart Campaign’s closure developed specialized knowledge and skills for evaluating the consumer protection performance of providers at a global level: