Making access to financial services a citizenry right
Written by Prof. Florence D.A.M Luoga, Governor, Bank of Tanzania
Without access to financial services, it is difficult for people to attain basic social and economic needs. Lack of access to financial services entraps the poor and vulnerable segments of the society in the vicious cycle of poverty, making it harder for them to fully participate in the economy. Access to financial services is an enabler for achieving the goal of inclusive societies where citizens partake in the socio-economic development.
In recent past, governments and the international community have increased efforts to enhance access to basic accounts for the underbanked population through financial inclusion initiatives. These initiatives are gaining traction with current data indicating that 69 percent of the adults globally have an account with a financial institution or through a mobile money service. In developing economies, the level is 63 percent, an increase of 9 percentage points between 2014 and 2017. Despite these efforts, there are large disparities between jurisdictions, demographics and segments of the society.
Making access to basic accounts a right for citizens would accelerate financial inclusion efforts, and enhance the fundamental foundation for expanding financial services to the unbanked population. This right will facilitate the achievement of desirable states such as, increased participation in formal economy, efficiency in government payment services and poverty alleviation.
Governments’ support is imperative — we will continue to engage with the government of Tanzania to enable articulation of this right to basic accounts in public policies and legal frameworks. The extended support will create impetus for other public and private sector stakeholders to work towards fulfilling the duties ascribed by this right. Multi-agency cooperation will be enhanced, and innovative policy solutions will be implemented that imbed right incentives for deployment of appropriate, and affordable basic accounts to access financial services.
The international community will be engaged on the agenda with a view to expand the use of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that promote inclusive growth to ensure citizens have a right to a basic account, facilitating access and usage of financial services.
We recognize that inadequate efforts by jurisdictions to ascribe citizen rights to access financial services through basic accounts reduces the ability to develop holistic enabling regulatory frameworks that support innovative solutions for financial inclusion. Consequently, conflicting policies may be issued by different organs within the state that hinder the gains of financial inclusion efforts.
We in Tanzania are therefore, determined to move on with this agenda and advocate for it to be enshrined as a citizen right. We are aligning this quest with the government’s aspiration of building a sustainable and inclusive society.