Woman wears a face mask at Khlongtoey Market, Bangkok, during the COVID-19 pandemic / iStock
2020-11-27

AFI kicks off ASEAN digital financial literacy workshop

Digital financial literacy is a critical enabler in the digital adoption of financial services, offering significant opportunities to accelerate financial inclusion among vulnerable groups, AFI said at a workshop it co-hosted with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Working Committee on Financial Inclusion (WC-FINC).

The workshop, held on 26 November, was designed for ASEAN countries to inform the development of a policy note on digital financial literacy, expected in 2021.

Director of Strategy and Financial Inclusion Policy Kennedy Komba opened the event, emphasizing that the policy note would “advance the implementation of digital financial literacy initiatives within the region and at the country level”.

Its development, he added, would complement existing commitments of ASEAN countries to financial literacy, adding that had most already begun promoting financial education at the national level, either as standalone strategies or as an integral part of national financial inclusion strategies.

“Within these frameworks, we can certainly expect policies and actions taken by both the public and the private sector to address the challenges posed by a lack of awareness and understanding of new financial products and services, including those delivered by digital means,” he said.

The region has witnessed significant growth in digital financial services (DFS) over the past decade, underscoring the need to enhance knowledge and skills, particularly among underserved and vulnerable populations, to ensure effective access and usage while also safeguarding against consumer protection-related risks.

“DFS-related consumer protection risks and challenges, coupled with significant levels of illiteracy, point to the need to build the capacity of consumers and build the knowledge and capability of consumers,” he said.

Recognizing this, Komba said that AFI’s digital financial services and consumer empowerment and market conduct working groups were developing a guideline note and toolkit to guide regulators in the development of digital financial literacy policies. These knowledge products, he added, will also provide additional technical support towards the creation of the ASEAN policy note.

Of ASEAN’s 10 member and two observer states, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Thailand and Timor-Leste are also represented in AFI’s network through the membership of their respective central banks.

Underscoring the significance of these close ties, Komba described AFI’s partnership with ASEAN as “extremely important, as it responds to the organization’s commitment to mobilize communities of practice and provide technical support for the advancement of financial inclusion in the ASEAN region.”

“We look forward to continue building ties with ASEAN in key financial inclusion areas such as youth, promotion of gender inclusive finance, digital financial services, consumer protection, inclusive green finance and digital financial literacy,” he said.

Bank Indonesia’s Budi Hanoto, co-chair of ASEAN WC-FINC, also delivered opening remarks.