Women’s financial inclusion and sex-disaggregated data highlighted as policy priority at 3rd EGFIP meeting in Costa Rica

Propelling women’s financial inclusion through the use of sex-disaggregated data was pivotal topic discussed during the 3rd Experts Group of Financial Inclusion Policy (EGFIP) meeting at the Financial Inclusion Initiative for Latin America and the Caribbean (FILAC) event. Supported by the Canadian Government’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and co-hosted by the Superintendencia General de Entidades Financieras from Costa Rica (SUGEF) and the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI), the meeting gathered 11 AFI member institutions on 12 – 13 March in San Jose, Costa Rica.

“Financial inclusion of women should be a policy priority of our institutions in achieving sustainable economic and financial inclusion,” said Luis Carlos Delgado, President of the National Council of Supervision of the Financial System (CONASSIF) and representative of FILAC’s co-Chair, during his opening remarks.  

FILAC’s co-Chair, Ronaldo Vieira Da Silva, Deputy Chief of the Financial Citizenship Program in Banco Central do Brasil (BCB), focused on Digital Financial Inclusion, a relevant policy theme on the agenda of BCB. He also highlighted this year’s role of Central Bank of Argentina — a new member of the AFI network — that has been echoing AFI’s financial inclusion priorities during Argentina’s G20 Presidency.

BCB will soon be one of the first AFI members to share and publish their Financial Inclusion Journey as part of the AFI Member Series that describes how their Financial Citizenship Program was implemented.

AFI Regional Manager for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), Carlos Alberto Moya, underlined the relevance of sex-disaggregated data, in financial inclusion. He also emphasized the importance of launching women-focused, financial education programs for those that are setting the agenda to reduce the critical gender gap within the region.

FILAC member institutions shared updates on main activities in financial inclusion. Institutions that took part in the meeting included CNBV from Mexico, Banco de la Republica from Colombia, SBS from Peru, SIB from Guatemala, BCRES from El Salvador, Superintendence of Banks from Paraguay, BRH from Haiti, the meeting co-host SUGEF from Costa Rica, BCRA from Argentina, BCB from Brasil, and the CBSH from Honduras.

Sex-disaggregated data for financial inclusion: The toolkit, assessment and how to take action

According to Marco del Rio from Comisión Nacional Bancaria y de Valores de México (CNBV), research on available sex-disaggregated data gave CNBV the opportunity to identify clear gender gaps related to usage of financial services and channels such are ATMs and banking agents. Available sex-disaggregated data included information on digital financial services, SMEs, financial literacy and financial consumer protection.

“Influenced by the AFI Gender and Women’s Financial Inclusion Committee, Argentina started researching sex-disaggregated data for financial inclusion,” conveyed Anabela Gomez, senior analyst from Banco Central de la Republica Argentina (BCRA).  

With access to a rich database from the Credit Registry (Risk Central), BCRA used Tax ID to identify clear gaps in the usage of loans. Gaps were identified not just between women and men but also according to their age, with the highest gap between the ages of 25-55, as well as the reverse gap from the age of 60 onwards. The bank published initial findings as a blog and is now set to conduct further research using sex-disaggregated data.

“There is a need for the in-depth sex-disaggregated data analysis, since it reveals distinctions that are not obvious with the broader disaggregation of data,” explained  AFI’s Consultant Carolina Trivelli. She added that financial regulators and policymakers should involve other stakeholders in the measurement of sex-disaggregated data. Trivelli emphasized the importance of incorporating strategic targets provided by sex-disaggregated data as part of policy commitments and implementations, such as  National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS).

Financial inclusion and closure of the gender gap, what are we doing and what more can we do?

Fiorella Arbulu from the Superintendence of Banks, Insurance and Private Pension Funds (SBS), Peru shared a summary from Carolina Trivelli’s research on financial inclusion and closing the gender gap in the region.

“Women’s financial exclusion may be a cultural problem but should also be considered an economic problem,” explained Christine Amy Toussaint from Banque de la Republique d’Haiti while sharing information on the financial inclusion gender gap in her country.

Among the identified challenges in reducing the gender gap within the LAC region include the following:

  • Providing usage of financial services by women;
  • Enabling in-depth research in the heterogeneity of women to identify clear gaps;
  • Identifying main barriers for women (cultural, social, labour), analyzing current policy interventions and comprehensive stakeholder mapping;
  • Generating and disseminating high-quality data and making  the gaps more visible
  • Identifying and promoting clear and effective actions, and follow-up the results

Country case spotlight: Real-time Payment Compensation System by Central Bank of Costa Rica (BCCR)

While sharing 15 years on the evolution of the payment system in Costa Rica, Carlos Melegatti, Director of the Payment Systems from Central Bank of Costa Rica, presented SINPE, the real-time payment system. He described how the Central Bank has been able to include different low-value transactions into the real-time payment system, lowering costs and making electronic transactions more efficient — that enabled a 24/7 low cost service.

More than 600,000 users including individually banked users from a total of 3.5 million, perform 12 million transactions worth $100 billion US dollars a year. More recently, the BCCR has been able to include mobile phone numbers and link them to bank accounts in order to make transactions through the Sieb.

FILAC members were interested in the features of the payment system and debated on its pros and cons that enable bank-led vs. non-bank-led models, and the role that electronic money issuers, with an adequate regulation may be able to perform in each of their respective jurisdiction

The next FILAC meeting is taking place in September, in Sochi, ahead of the 2018 AFI Global Policy Forum.