> Posted by Center Staff
The Financial Inclusion 2020 campaign at the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion is building a movement toward full financial inclusion by 2020. Accordingly, this blog series will spotlight financial inclusion efforts around the globe, share insights coming out of the creation of a roadmap to full financial inclusion, and highlight findings from research on the “invisible market.”
We’re excited to announce the launch of the Roadmap to Financial Inclusion, a major initiative of Financial Inclusion 2020.
Through an extensive consultative process, we developed a set of recommendations to move financial inclusion forward, using the year 2020 to galvanize thought and action. Each of five working groups, with participation from a diversity of countries and stakeholder groups from the public and private sectors, developed a “roadmap” that serves as a springboard for dialogue and action. Individual conversations with experts and practitioners informed the roadmaps, as well.
The resulting roadmap principles and recommendations are meant to help keep the financial inclusion community focused and accountable for guiding inclusion in a direction that will fulfill its promise to improve lives and boost economies. They demonstrate the need for a strong demand-side orientation, signaling that financial inclusion is not just about expanding access, but also about ensuring quality so that usage will be high and customers will benefit. Some recommendations are directed at financial service providers, while others focus on governments and regulators. Support organizations, ranging from technology companies to international funders, are also addressed.
Here are the core roadmap principles, as well as a sample recommendation from each roadmap.
Financial Capability: Shift the Paradigm
Currently, the paradigm for financial capability is focused on financial education as knowledge transfer. Instead, we must think of financial capability in light of its end goal: sound financial choices and behavior. People learn best by doing. To achieve this, stakeholders involved in financial inclusion have a responsibility to integrate financial capability building into every aspect of their work and products, both with current and prospective customers. The scale of the need means that many actors are welcome, including providers, governments, non-profits, schools, and others.
Sample recommendation: Providers can use electronic customer touch-points to support financial capability at low cost, for example, SMS reminders that alert clients before a loan is due or encourage regular savings.
Addressing Customer Needs: Easy to Say, Hard to Do
People living in poverty often act differently than we expect. Their financial lives are not like those of middle class households. While the solution is for providers to listen to customers, it is easier said than done. Listening needs to happen at all levels of an organization and involves both current and prospective customers. To better understand prospective clients, providers also need to build on abundant knowledge that already exists on the financial lives of the poor and insights from behavioral economics to create products and delivery systems that are useful and valuable to customers.
Sample recommendation: Every board member of providing organizations should listen directly to customers, through regular interviews, customer panels, or other means.
Regulators are key to facilitating the success of technology-enabled business models. They must provide the enabling environment that allows new business models and specialized providers to operate smoothly at the base of the pyramid. Governments have the opportunity to use their resources creatively to promote the development of a vibrant financial inclusion sector, employing government-to-person payments and other tools such as procurement and selective subsidies. Supporting organizations can assist national regulators to meet the steep challenge of keeping pace with technology.
Sample recommendation: Policymakers can use universal service funds paid by telecommunications companies to incentivize mobile money to reach remote areas.
Credit Reporting: It Takes a Village
Credit reporting systems that work for all parties are essential for financial inclusion, but in many countries, these systems are not yet realities for the BoP. Many actors must be involved in sustained efforts toward this end, with providers, governments and credit reporting organizations working together. One promising development: the financial inclusion community as a whole can encourage the use of alternative data to enable “thin file” customers to access financial services, while protecting customer rights.
Sample recommendation: Support organizations can subsidize service providers to gear up to use credit reporting efficiently; such providers face high transition costs.
Client Protection: Everyone’s Promise
An influx of new and mainly low-income customers will require urgent action on consumer protection. Providers must begin to incorporate client protection into their professional identity and back principles up with detailed standards of practice. The regulatory gap in consumer protection is enormous, prompting the working group to call for a global goal of effective client protection regulation in every country by 2020.
Sample recommendation: Policymakers and consumer groups can create forums for publication of consumer complaints or complaints about services they use to increase consumer voice and provider accountability.
This is just a small taste of the full findings from the consultative process. There’s a lot more in each roadmap, including a topic-specific vision for financial inclusion, an analysis of the current state of each topic, and recommendations tailored to policymakers, providers, and support organizations. The next step is to enlist the collective insight of a broader group of stakeholders to distill and push this thinking further at the Global Forum in London on October 28-30.
We also want to know what you think. Did we miss anything? Do any of the recommendations in particular appeal to you? Share your thoughts by commenting on the Roadmap pages of the FI2020 website.
For the full set of recommendations, please visit www.financialinclusion2020.org.
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