Pacific Islands Regional Initiative
The Pacific Islands Regional Initiative (PIRI) was created in 2014 at the Global Policy Forum (GPF) in Trinidad and Tobago and officially launched on May 2015 in Dili, Timor Leste.
It was previously called the Pacific Islands Financial Inclusion Working Group (PIWG), and was originally formed in 2009 at the request of the central banks of Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Timor Leste. Tonga joined in 2012.
PIRI members recognized that continuity was required to better address the unique constraints to increasing financial inclusion in the Pacific. Establishing this regional initiative now provides a long-term opportunity for member institutions to share a common vision, while working toward ensuring financial services are widely accessed throughout a region with one of the highest unbanked rates globally due to factors that include geographically dispersed islands with low density populations, and challenges related to physical and banking infrastructure.
PIRI workstream on FinTech
Pacific Islands Regional Initiative (PIRI) FinTech workstreams include: enabling test-and learn approaches, FinTech knowledge repository, additional and systematic regulatory guidance, Public-Private Dialogue (PPD) and global exchange, and rationalization of multiple support activities and stakeholder offerings. The “Apia Action Plan” on de-risking is expected to be endorsed by all PIRI members, including stakeholders, at the 4th PIRI meeting in Apia, Samoa 2018.
AFI has created a unique model of south-south engagement and peer learning that is highly valued by policymakers from the Pacific Islands region. These policymakers see engagement in AFI as essential to increasing access to financial services for the unbanked. They also see the AFI Network as an ideal platform to engage with key stakeholders, including the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme, as well as with the private sector.
To date, 21 policy reforms to advance financial inclusion have been developed by member institutions in the Pacific Islands as a result of their participation in AFI. Since its inception in 2009, a total of 13 meetings have taken place under the leadership of the group's co-chairs. AFI’s members from the Pacific Islands are among the most dedicated and active champions of financial inclusion policymaking.
Maya Declaration commitments
Membership in AFI has strengthened the commitment of the Pacific’s policymakers to develop and implement financial inclusion regulatory reforms. An important illustration of this has been the endorsement by AFI members of the Maya Declaration—the first global and measurable set of commitments by policymakers from developing and emerging countries to unlock the economic and social potential of 2 billion unbanked people through greater financial inclusion.
These commitments are a public promise made by AFI members to their national constituencies and to the AFI network to expand access to financial services at the national level in specific and measurable ways.
There are more than 50 institutional commitments to the Maya Declaration, to date. All seven members of the Pacific Islands member countries have made commitments to the Maya Declaration.
Working with development partners
This effort of advancing financial inclusion in the region would have been futile had it not been for the collaborative and partnership model adopted in each of the member countries. Development partners not only assist in the formulation of the policies but assist in implementation and evaluation phases as well.