Setting an Agenda for Global Financial Inclusion

CFI is charting a course for global financial inclusion and bringing the industry together around a customer-centered vision.


Financial inclusion means different things to different people. Today’s marketplace represents a wide array of providers with varying interests. Some focus on access to bank accounts, while others build electronic payments infrastructure, and still others develop credit services or insurance. With significant resources invested to expand financial services to low-income, first-time and underserved consumers, the importance of ensuring that newly included people actually benefit from the services cannot be underestimated. To be effective, the financial inclusion community needs alignment and direction about how to tackle a big challenge—too big for any one entity to solve.


CFI approached this challenge by building communities of support and action around a progressive agenda for global financial inclusion:

Agenda Setting

We articulated a vision for financial inclusion that includes service range, quality, affordability, convenience, consumer protection and empowerment. We understand what meaningful financial inclusion looks like, and our agenda reflects that.

Community Building

We know that constructing a financial inclusion community that serves, protects and empowers customers requires the combined efforts of many actors. We add value to the sector by bringing people together, building consensus and enhancing the industry’s collective knowledge and skills.

Delivering Insights

We investigate big, unanswered questions that can catalyze the industry to meet the financial needs of underserved people around the world.


stakeholder engagement

We support, convene and engage a variety of industry stakeholders, including regulators, investors, fintechs and providers, to help make financial inclusion a lasting reality.

On the heels of the global financial crisis in 2008, we engaged the global financial inclusion community to internalize and implement consumer protection. Working collaboratively with many stakeholders, we developed the first industry standards for consumer protection in financial inclusion via The Smart Campaign. By May 2018, over 100 financial institutions, collectively serving more than 42 million people, have been certified for adhering to these industry-accepted standards. Our Model Legal Framework for Consumer Protection provides the regulatory foundation for treating consumers fairly in the financial services marketplace. This policy guidance has been adopted in several countries, including Myanmar.

In 2012, we spearheaded a movement that mobilized a broad set of stakeholders around the globe to embark on a shared roadmap for action. We recognized that it was possible to bring access to financial services to everyone in the world in just a few years, and put out a call for financial inclusion by 2020. This effort received an enormous boost when, just one year later in 2013, the World Bank announced its Universal Financial Access program, adopting 2020 as its target date.

With dedicated convenings of the Financial Inclusion Equity Council (FIEC), we have helped equity investors candidly and collaboratively examine the most difficult, most sensitive challenges in impact investing in financial inclusion—such as valuation, governance and responsible exits. FIEC serves as a trusted, valuable forum for our community to collectively address responsible investing and sustainable inclusion.

Reasearch and Insights

We conduct research and share insights to help the industry meet the financial needs of underserved people around the world.

With research and insights, we are making important contributions in the frontier issues in financial inclusion, as well as keeping the community focused on the client. We have commissioned experts to challenge prevailing narratives and perceived silver bullets for financial inclusion. For instance, CFI Research Fellows have shattered the notion that government-to-person payment schemes and smartphones are automatic onramps for inclusion. They have also revealed the important ways in which human interaction should offset digital interaction as providers scale their efforts on mobile and online.

Another way we focus on the client is through the CFI Blog. Our ongoing coverage of refugees, client voice, the financial diaries and Keeping Clients First are just some examples of the client focus we’ve built into our digital sharing, learning and debate platform.

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