Enhancing access to financial services in the Arab region
Financial Inclusion for the Arab Region Initiative (FIARI) aims to enhance access to financial services in the region through effective coordination mechanisms and supporting the implementation of national financial inclusion policies. Comprising nine AFI member institutions in seven countries, FIARI was created amid growing demand from AFI member institutions for tailored solutions to financial inclusion challenges facing the Arab region.
Launched by the Arab Monetary Fund (AMF), German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and AFI during the 2017 AFI Global Policy Forum (GPF) in Sharm El Sheikh, FIARI has focused on digital financial services (DFS), financial technology (FinTech), regulatory technology (RegTech), financial inclusion data and small and medium enterprise financing (SMEF). Following the launch, the World Bank joined the initiative as an implementing partner.
FIARI has two key objectives:
- To help accelerate conducive policies and actions for enhancing Arab societies’ access to financial services through an effective coordination mechanism, by supporting the implementation of national financial inclusion policies;
- To use financial inclusion as a driving force for sustainable economic and social development, aligned with the range of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).
The Arab region has played a central role in advancing AFI’s vision of making financial services more accessible to the world’s unbanked. In the past 12 months alone, FIARI members hit several of milestones including launching Palestine’s national financial inclusion strategy (NFIS) and hosting the #FinTex Symposium in the United Arab Emirates, member training on innovations in digital financial inclusion in Morocco as well as a high-level policy forum on FinTech, DFS and SMEF working group meetings and private public dialogue (PPD) training in Jordan.
Underscoring the region’s commitment to tackling key obstacles to global financial stability, participants at AFI’s 2017 GPF – which was co-hosted by Central Bank of Egypt – launched the Sharm El Sheikh Accord. The Accord commits AFI member institutions to identify, understand and implement financial inclusion policy solutions that also have positive outcomes for the environment, focusing on communities that are most vulnerable to climate change.
Building on the momentum, AFI established an inclusive green finance team to focus on financial sector policies that bring individuals and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) into mitigation efforts and builds their resilience to climate change impacts.
List of members:
- Autorité de Contrôle de la Microfinance de la République Tunisienne (Tunisia)
- Bank Al-Maghrib (Morocco)
- Banque Centrale de Syrie (Syria)
- Banque Centrale de Tunisie (Tunisia)
- Central Bank of Egypt (Egypt)
- Central Bank of Jordan (Jordan)
- Central Bank of Yemen (Yemen)
- Ministère des Finances de la République Tunisienne (Tunisia)
- Palestine Monetary Authority (Palestine)
“FIARI will enable [AFI] to engage in the region, to learn from each other on important issues such as financial inclusion for forcibly displaced persons, women’s financial inclusion but also SME finance. These are important issues and regulators can make a difference” - AFI Executive Director Dr. Alfred Hannig
“As we show the will to join forces under FIARI and foster knowledge, we reinforce our commitment to financial inclusion and thus to addressing some of the region’s most urgent challenges such as youth unemployment and women’s economic exclusion” - GIZ Head of Europe, Mediterranean and Central Asia Ute Klamert