Financial inclusion has been recognized as one of the most powerful tools in the fight against poverty. However, despite the success achieved by financial institutions in providing services to millions of excluded people throughout Asia-Pacific, the region is still home to an estimated 1.2 billion people who do not have access to a bank account or formal financial services. The creation of inclusive financial systems remains critical for both social and economic progress.
As a leading player in the global financial inclusion landscape, UNCDF has recently supported the Asia-Pacific Financial Inclusion Summit 2015, held in Manila on October 27th-29th, 2015.
The Summit, organised jointly by the Citi Foundation, the Foundation for Development Cooperation and the Financial Times, is a new event merging two already existing leading forums, the Citi-FT Financial Education Summit and the Asia Microfinance Forum. Major issues in the area of financial inclusion were discussed, including how financial inclusion can support sustainable development, how it can benefit from getting digital, which regulatory frameworks are necessary to drive it and how the payments from the government to persons (G2P payments) like social transfers, wages and pensions, can deepen it.
Among others, three government officials from Myanmar attended the Summit to get more exposure to what is happening in the region in terms of financial inclusion. Indeed, financial inclusion is a trending topic in the country as Myanmar’s government recently recognized financial inclusion as a key driver to reduce poverty. It launched a “Financial Inclusion Roadmap” to drive the process, identifying six priority areas as low hanging fruits and focus areas to achieve financial inclusion; namely financial literacy, mobile payments, one bank account per household, donor mobilization, low income segment and SME development.
“The Myanmar government has taken some bold and deliberate steps to improve financial inclusion in Myanmar. Key among these has been the approval of the financial inclusion Roadmap by the cabinet and the establishment of the high level inter-ministerial steering committee.,” said Paul Luchtenburg, UNCDF Technical Advisor.
With its EFA programme, running from 2015 to 2020, UNCDF Myanmar aims at helping the government in the implementation of the financial inclusion Roadmap to achieve the goal of increasing the percentage of adult population financially included from 30% to 40%, and the number of people using more than one financial product from 6% to 15%, making 830,000 direct low-income beneficiaries and 3 million indirect ones.