Central Bank of Armenia and AFI co-host Joint Learning Program on consumer protection in Dilijan

Central Bank of Armenia (CBA) and Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) are co-hosting a Joint Learning Program, Enhanced Market Conduct Regulation and Supervision for Financial Inclusion, for 40 senior and mid-level officials from AFI member institutions who are working on developing, implementing or enforcing polices, guidelines and frameworks on Consumer Empowerment and Market Conduct (CEMC).

The five-day program is taking place from 19-23 March at the Dilijan Training and Research Centre, CBA’s learning center in Dilijan, Armenia.

“The topic of market conduct is increasingly becoming important. Year by year, the issue of consumer protection is increasing in importance as a key component of financial system stability,” said Mr. Armenak Darbinyan, Board Member of CBA, during his opening remarks earlier today.

Low levels of consumer protection are resulting in rising activity not only in regulatory structures and research work, but also involving a variety of organizations, associations, and societies. Consumer confidence and trust in a well-functioning market for financial services promotes financial stability, growth and innovation over the long run.

Regulators and policymakers are tackling how to address new risks to consumers, particularly those arising from new digital channels for delivery of financial products and services. They’re also developing new approaches, incorporating behavioral insights into the design of effective disclosure regimes, developing rules regarding product suitability, and building up specialized market conduct supervisory tools.

“With the rapid expansion of technology, particularly the rise in fintech solutions and the offerings of services through the digital platforms, financial consumer empowerment anchored on prudent and transparent market conduct must be the corner stone our financial system — if the poor are to benefit from our efforts,” emphasized Mr. Eliki Boletawa, Head of Policy Programs and Regional Initiatives at AFI.

He adds that “a strong consumer protection regime is key to achieving financial inclusion in a responsible and sustainable manner that benefits consumers. As we advance financial inclusion, we see new consumers enter into the formal financial system, and its these consumers that need to be able to make informed choices and be protected from harmful business practices.”

The five-day program highlights achievements related to CEMC made under the Maya Declaration and integration of the gender perspective in supervisory/market conduct policies. Participants are learning about the linkages between market conduct, consumer empowerment and impact assessment. Designed as a practical and interactive program, the participants have an opportunity for field visits and interaction with key market conduct authorities.

The first Joint Learning Program for 2018, Enhanced Market Conduct Regulation and Supervision for Financial Inclusion is also the first Capacity Building event co-hosted by CBA. This program will bring closer the 30 participants from Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean and the Pacific from 23 countries and 24 institutions. This indeed promises to be a great week of peer learning.

About AFI’s capacity building events

Every year, AFI conducts around 20 capacity building events, each of them designed to meet specific learning objectives. Attended by a diverse range of participants, these events include Joint Learning Programs, member trainings, trainings with AFI’s Public-Private Dialogue (PPD) partners, and Peer Advisory Services. To meet the increasing demand of its members, in 2017, AFI launched its first online course, The Certified Expert in Financial Inclusion Policy – CEFI, in partnership with Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.

Joint Learning Programs (JLP) have always been a preferred service by AFI members with a high rating 90 percent in usefulness in the 2017 Member Needs Assessment. The technical content of a JLP is led by the host organization and this is line with the 91 percent rating received for demand amongst members for in depth technical knowledge by experts from AFI member institutions. A JLP thus reinforces AFI’s focus on the peer learning approach.