AFI Executive Director Dr. Alfred Hannig, conducted a regional tour with visits to AFI member institutions in Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Dr. Hannig met with Dr. Chiranjibi Nepal, Governor of Nepal Rastra Bank, Governor Indrajit Coomaraswamy of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka and Deputy Governor Ruchukorn Siriyodhin and Assistant Governor Nawaporn Maharagkaga of the Bank of Thailand, between 11 – 15 December 2017.
During AFI’s first trip to Nepal, Dr. Hannig updated Dr. Chiranjibi Nepal on signing the Memorandum of Understanding with the Asian Development Bank, and discussed ways for AFI to facilitate cooperation and consolidating learnings in the Asian region, specifically for its members and prospective members in SAARC countries.
In Sri Lanka, AFI Executive Director welcomed the decision of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) to maintain its membership in the AFI network as principal member and explored areas of collaboration and priorities for CBSL in the sphere of financial inclusion. As the Central Bank is planning to develop a comprehensive National Strategy for Financial Inclusion, the two delegations discussed how the AFI network can support its member in this regard. Finally, Dr. Hannig provided an update from the meeting with Governor Nepal and next steps for the South Asia regional collaboration initiative.
The Bank of Thailand (BoT), founding member institution of the AFI network, has been a pioneer in advancing financial inclusion in the country. With financial access reaching almost universal level, the BoT is now looking at new opportunities including FinTech for financial inclusion and behavioral finance for consumer protection.
Dr. Hannig and BoT’s Deputy Governor Ruchukorn and Assistant Governor Nawaporn discussed the bank’s priorities in financial inclusion, the impact of financial innovation (FinTech) on the financial system and potential risks for consumers that regulators need to be aware. The officials deliberated on concrete areas for collaboration between BoT and AFI and discussed the potential leadership role that BoT could take in the new workstream that AFI is initiating on FinTech. Discussions also touched upon AFI’s active role in supporting the ASEAN Working Group on Financial Inclusion in implementing their regional priorities for 2018.
The Asia tour marks the end of a collaborative and successful year for AFI in this region and sets the framework for new and exciting opportunities expected in 2018. The Asian region, composed of different sub-regions, diverse in its cultural background, economic development and financial inclusion levels, is still home to more than half of the world’s unbanked. Digital financial services, FinTech innovations for financial inclusion and appropriate consumer protection informed by behavior insights, are pieces of the puzzle for unlocking the region’s potential and ensuring sustainable and inclusive development for all.