UNCDF’s Executive Secretary addressed a group of over one hundred financial regulators to affirm UNCDF’s commitment to helping them meet their financial inclusions goals. The panel was moderated by the Governor Benno Ndulu of the Bank of Tanzania on the closing afternoon of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion’s (AFI) annual Global Policy Forum.
Financial regulators from Malaysia, Nigeria and Peru joined Mr. Bichler as well as representatives from the World Bank and the Center for Financial Inclusion to discuss how regulators were making and meeting their commitments to financial inclusion, known as the “Maya Declaration” commitments.
Governor Ndulu noted that the AFI commitments were subject to “peer pressure, but without conditionality” because commitments were subject to each country’s own priorities, strategies and targets. Mr. Kingsley Chiedu Moghalu, Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, highlighted some of the accomplishments in just two years, including a tiered “know your customer” framework so that regulation did not inhibit financial inclusion and noted that in just four years they had seen the rate of financial exclusion drop from 46% to 39%.
Muhammad Ibrahim, Deputy Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia shared details of its financial inclusion index, which considers not only access, but also customer usage, geographic accessibility and customer satisfaction. Elisabeth Rhyne of the Center for Financial Inclusion noted that the majority of AFI commitments were related to outreach figures and financial literacy and then members might also consider beginning to focus on the use and quality of services as well.
Mr. Bichler rounded up the panel, highlighting UNCDF’s natural partnership with AFI and the assistance to a number of central banks to meet their commitments. “UNCDF played a role in initiating the National Strategies Working Group (of AFI) and our Making Access Possible diagnostic tool will help several members fulfill their commitment to developing financial strategies. We share the same belief in expanding dialogues between regulators and financial service providers and, like AFI, UNCDF cherishes the multi-stakeholder approach.” Mr. Bichler noted that UNCDF helped co-found the AFI’s Pacific Islands Working Group has also been active in supporting central banks from Malawi to Papua New Guinea fulfill commitments related to branchless banking and financial literacy.
Shortly after the session, the Bank of Papua New Guinea, the Central Bank of Samoa and Nepal Rastra Bank made their first Maya Declaration commitments to expand financial inclusion and all are receiving support from UNCDF to do so.