Governor Simeone Athy, the Chair of PIRI, gives his opening remarks at the 8th EGFIP meeting in Apia, Samoa

8th EGFIP meeting recognizes untapped potential of FinTech to accelerate financial inclusion in the Pacific

Talofa from Apia! The 8th meeting of the Experts Groups on Financial Inclusion Policy (EGFIP) for the Pacific Islands Regional Initiative (PIRI), took place on 5 June, 2018 in Apia, Samoa. Co-hosted by Central Bank of Samoa and the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI), the meeting concluded with the Leaders Roundtable endorsing the workplan for FinTech for Financial Inclusion in the Pacific.

Attended by all members of PIRI including the Central Bank of Seychelles, the closed meeting began with a tour de table where members provided updates on the various financial inclusion initiatives being carried out in their countries. Members then reviewed the revised charter of PIRI, and the addendum to the Dili Consensus that included four additional policy topics: FinTech, Gender, Climate Change and Forcibly Displaced Persons (FDPs).

PIRI members acknowledge that innovative, technology-based financial services including FinTech hold great promise towards accelerating financial inclusion especially among vulnerable segments of society. They also recognize the need to contribute to an inclusive, prosperous and environmentally sound future by designing, and implementing financial inclusion policies, and regulatory reforms that are aligned with the Sharm El Sheikh Accord on Financial Inclusion and Climate Change.

During the EGFIP meeting, members noted that there is a persistent gender gap in access to financial services; close to one billion women globally are financially excluded. Proactive strategies to address women’s financial inclusion will better inform and enhance policy objectives — supporting the Denarau Action Plan on Gender. Members also expressed solidarity with FDPs and the countries who host them, pledging to support the financial inclusion and economic empowerment of those who are forced to flee due to worsening crises, and the impacts of climate change. 

As part of the FinTech scoping exercise, PIRI members undertook a preliminary survey with two broad objectives: to identify the key issues that PIRI countries are facing from the perspective of FinTech for financial inclusion; and identify key FinTech policy areas and themes relevant for PIRI members. Members were presented with the preliminary findings of the survey and through these, the workplan was developed.

Furthermore, in fulfilment of the Denarau Action Plan, members undertook a training on sex-disaggregated data. The training dived into the sex-disaggregated toolkit that was developed by the Financial Inclusion Data Working Group (FIDWG), allowing members from Tonga, Solomon Islands and Fiji to share the progress in their data collection.

Towards the end of the EGFIP meeting, members deliberated and provided comments on the zero draft for FinTech draft. All deliverables achieved were then presented to the Governors, in the Leaders Roundtable where the issues put forth by the EGFIP members were endorsed. Senior technical member leads of the EGFIP from Vanuatu, Solomon, Tonga and Papua New Guinea presented to the leaders the issues that was discussed during the day and these were all endorsed by the leaders.

In his closing remarks, Governor Simeone Athy, the Chair of PIRI, thanked EGIFP members for their achievements and work put into the implementation of PIRI’s workplan. He also reminded them to remain committed in ensuring that they achieve the various goals set — with the ultimate objective of ensuring that the financial inclusion mission of PIRI is achieved.