Participants at BNM-AFI member training on Improving Implementation of Financial Inclusion Strategy Using Monitoring and Evaluation Data

NFIS must encourage long-term sustainable goals, AFI’s DED

Regulators must adopt a “holistic approach” to national financial inclusion strategies (NFIS) that encourage long-term and sustainable economic growth, AFI’s Deputy Executive Director Norbert Mumba said at the start of member training on 18 November.

He noted that while the capacity building training, which is being co-hosted by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), will focus on the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of financial inclusion strategies and data, participants must be aware of any potential impact on broader financial inclusion.

“The need is for a holistic approach to financial inclusion whereby an effective NFIS contributes to not only economic growth but to the realization of larger goals, such as the sustainable development goals,” he said.

Ruziana Mohd Mokhtar, Deputy Director of Human Capital Development Centre at BNM, also delivered opening remarks during which she welcomed participants to the training and thanked AFI for helping organize the event.

AFI member training on NFIS is held annually and is among the network’s most in-demand capacity building events. Tailored to explore a range of both traditional and up-and-coming topics, this year’s five-day “Training on Improving Implementation of Financial Inclusion Strategy Using Monitoring and Evaluation Data” is being attended by 42 participants from 36 member institutions.

“The financial inclusion landscape is changing rapidly and as regulators it is important that we take these into consideration,” AFI’s Mumba said, adding that: “So, importantly, we will spend a full day on emerging policy areas: Gender Inclusive Finance, Inclusive Green Finance, Youth Financial Inclusion and Digital Financial Inclusion”.

Sessions will also cover digital financial services, sex-disaggregated data, multi-stakeholder coordination and monitoring and evaluation frameworks.

Participants have gathered in Kuala Lumpur from 32 countries. Member institutions in more than half of these have already made Maya Declaration Commitments relating to the development and implementation of NFIS. Among them is Banco de Moçambique, which is in the process of incorporating accessible and affordable green technologies into its NFIS, while National Bank of Tajikistan has pledged to implement NFIS.

According to Mumba, as of April 2019, 48 countries within AFI network have an NFIS and most are currently in the implementation phase.

“Given the critical importance of having an NFIS, it is only imperative that AFI continues to build capacities on this topic. What has been interesting for us is to see the progress made by the members which is reflected in the change in the learning objectives stated by participants over the years,” he said.

By the end of the training, participants will be able to identify relevant best practices for effective coordination and collaboration with multiple stakeholders for strategy implementation; explore different methodologies for the collection and usage of data and indicators for monitoring and evaluation; and be aware of the emerging trends and issues in relation to implementation and monitoring and evaluation of the NFIS.

This is the fourth AFI capacity building event co-hosted with BNM in 2019, and follows member training on instructional strategies in February, digitizing financial inclusion in July and consumer market and market conduct in October.

Looking ahead, more than 20 AFI capacity building events are slated for next year, with a shift in focus reflecting the changing needs of members.

“We are currently revisiting our strategic approach to capacity building and 2020 promises to be even more exciting, with higher focus on in country implementation of policies,” AFI’s Mumba said.

BNM is one of AFI’s earliest members, having joined the network in 2009. Six years later, the central bank won the bid to host AFI’s permanent headquarters, resulting in a shift in the network’s main office to Kuala Lumpur from Bangkok. BNM’s financial inclusion goals are housed in its Financial Inclusion Framework, a decade-long blueprint that aims to create an inclusive financial system by providing access to and usage of quality, affordable essential financial services to all, particularly the underserved.