Top Ten Takeaways from FI2020 Global Forum Roundtables

> Posted by Susy Cheston, Senior Advisor, CFI

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.”

The Financial Inclusion 2020 project has centered around a set of five roadmaps, each covering a major challenge in reaching full inclusion: financial capability, addressing customer needs, client protection, technology, and credit reporting. At the Financial Inclusion 2020 Global Forum in October, participants met in focused roundtable sessions to talk about moving the roadmap recommendations toward action. In this post we highlight some of the main takeaways from these roundtables.

1. What works? We need evidence! Many of the roundtables dreamed of a clearinghouse of case studies, research, country examples, and other evidence on the effectiveness of different approaches to technology, financial capability, and client protection. Part of the dream was a platform for governments and providers to share and disseminate their experiences.

2. We want metrics. Are our services customer-centric? Do we have effective client protection practices? Do we track complaints? Do we know who is or is not opting in to our services? And are we getting all the data we have into the hands of people who can use it to make our services better?

3. Who’s at the table? The drivers of financial inclusion within governments are not just bank regulators, but telecommunications, insurance, and utility regulators, and many ministries (finance, agriculture, social welfare, education, etc.).

4. We need to talk. These various stakeholders need to coordinate or at least share experiences. One approach is a multi-stakeholder Financial Inclusion Task Force within the national government or between government and the private sector.

Global Forum roundtable session

5. It’s not just regulators. Regulators play a vital role, but industry leadership is essential for moving forward innovations in technology, for integrating financial capability and consumer protection into services, for adopting credit reporting for the base of the pyramid, and, above all, for meeting customer needs.

6. We need to find our balance. That includes knowing when to let the market take its course and when to regulate. It also includes balancing access and protection. For example, how do we use client data analytics as an on-ramp for thin file customers while protecting customers’ privacy? And how do we promote access to credit without increasing over-indebtedness?

7. Don’t let innovations lead to inadvertent exclusion. There is a danger of interventions and innovations leading to a new class of excluded customers. For example, a person with a disability may become even more excluded if mobile money services are not accessible.

8. We need to figure out the business models. This is an issue for every major “opportunity” to advance inclusion. It’s also an issue for reaching new customers who are harder to reach. Many feel the business case is already there for companies that take the long view, but we need to articulate this, and innovation is still needed.

9. It’s easy to say but hard to do. Many of the Roadmap principles are common sense and most have widespread agreement—but they are not happening. Some of the solution is to align incentives by governments, investors, donors, etc., with the Roadmap principles.

10. It all comes down to customers. The single most significant driver of financial inclusion is meeting customer needs. That includes expanding our market to include new customers.

For a more extensive overview of the conversations at the Global Forum, stay tuned for an i-magazine summary to be released next week. If you would like to receive this magazine, please provide your email address here. You can also view video recordings of most of the FI2020 Global Forum plenary sessions on our website.

Image credit: The Center for Financial Inclusion

Have you read?

Launching the Roadmap to Financial Inclusion With a Focus on Greater Access, Quality, and Protection for Customers

The Financial Inclusion 2020 Global Forum: A Letter to Microfinance Institutions

Alex Counts: What I Learned at the FI2020 Global Forum

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