H.M. Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA), today co-hosted a virtual workshop with the Center for Financial Inclusion (CFI) at Accion to raise awareness and address algorithm biases for financial inclusion.

Queen Máxima and CFI Managing Director Mayada El-Zoghbi co-chaired the meeting, which convened leadership from select central banks and other subject matter experts. Both the UNSGSA and the Managing Director provided brief opening remarks. President and CEO of Accion Michael Schlein also offered brief remarks.

Artificial intelligence (AI)-driven digital financial services hold tremendous potential for financial inclusion. For example, the rapid growth in mobile phone usage and increase in new customer data have resulted in novel methods to deliver financial services by leveraging AI and data — especially in emerging markets and economies.

However, these new innovations can be accompanied with new risks or reinforce previous biases and exclusion issues, with potentially harmful consequences for consumers. This is particularly relevant for vulnerable groups like the poor, women, smallholder farmers, and small businesses.

Attendees used the opportunity to exchange knowledge and learn lessons from the experiences of their counterparts from different institutions and countries on these issues. They were encouraged to examine how to more effectively diagnose problems and identify risks related to AI-driven digital financial services.

Participants also examined how governments could better monitor and mitigate the risks associated with using algorithms for credit and insurance products in their own markets. Further, attendees used the time to consider the role of the private sector in finding solutions and ensuring future innovations are safe and fair for consumers.

The workshop was designed to help participants better understand the risks associated with algorithm biases, as well as to create a research agenda to develop possible strategies and solutions to tackle these problems.

The meeting was conducted under Chatham House Rule. For further reading on the topic, please see CFI’s report, The Stories Algorithms Tell: Bias and Financial Inclusion at the Data Margins.”

UNSGSA Queen Máxima (top left) is pictured during a virtual workshop for central banks to address algorithm biases for financial inclusion, which the Special Advocate co-hosted with Center for Financial Inclusion Managing Director Mayada El-Zoghbi (top right). Also pictured are Office of the UNSGSA Director Pia Tayag (bottom left) and Accion President and CEO Michael Schlein. Other attendees are not shown, in accordance with Chatham House Rule.

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