FISPLG, FID and CEMC working group members in Lilongwe, Malawi

27 March 2023

AFI members tackle technology, innovation and financial health at the 2023 FISPLG, FID and CEMC working group meetings in Lilongwe

AFI members from across the globe have gathered in the Malawian capital, Lilongwe this week for four days of uninterrupted peer learning and knowledge exchange, as they kick off this year’s Consumer Empowerment and Market Conduct, Financial Inclusion Data and Financial Inclusion Strategy Peer Learning Working Group Meetings (CEMCWG, FIDWG, and FISPLG). Co-hosted by the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM), the event is a chance for members to deepen policy conversations, build member capacity, and identify synergies between their respective working groups. In his welcoming remarks RBM Governor, Dr. Wilson T. Banda highlighted the past and future significance of the AFI’s philosophy of knowledge exchange and peer learning:

“The Reserve Bank of Malawi’s collaboration with AFI has grown stronger over the years. The AFI network has greatly helped Malawi to shape our financial inclusion policies and frameworks. We have been leveraging AFI knowledge products and engagements with peers in the network to inform the development of our country’s financial inclusion policies including frameworks on consumer protection, agency banking, digital financial services, and gender-inclusive finance. Today’s meeting provides us with yet another opportunity to engage with the delegates from different countries, share experiences, and explore innovative ways to further push the frontiers of financial inclusion through dialogue.”

Since joining AFI as a principal member in 2010, RBM has assumed various leadership roles within the global network, including serving as the CEMCWG chair from 2020 to 2022. RBM takes part in all of AFI’s seven working groups and has successfully completed an array of Maya Declaration targets relating to financial literacy in schools, financial inclusion data, digital financial services, agent banking, consumer protection, and market conduct legislation, not to mention several exciting new targets on financial innovation. RBM also actively embraces AFI’s In-Country Implementation programs to benefit women’s financial inclusion and gender transformative policies, as well as to increase awareness, and adoption of electronic payments by micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Dubbed one of the friendliest and most beautiful countries on the African continent with an unbeatable culinary heritage, Malawi is bound to offer members all the necessary inspiration to break new ground in financial inclusion policymaking and regulation this week. Malawians proved their diehard resilience recently after pulling through one of the worst tropical storms in their country’s history. Having ripped through the country’s southern region earlier this month, cyclone Freddy is also a striking reminder of just how critical financial inclusion has become as our planet is hit by global warming and increasingly unpredictable natural disasters.

In his opening remarks, AFI’s Director of Policy Programs and Implementation, Eliki Boletawa thanked RBM for its relentless effort in making the event possible and encouraged WG members to embrace the invaluable financial inclusion insight it has on offer:

“These three working groups – representing 40% of our WG policy program – share one common ambition… Optimizing technology and innovation – in a protective, empowering, and strategic way – to boost the financial inclusion of the world’s most vulnerable populations, including youth, women, migrants, and forcibly displaced persons, with the ultimate goal of providing them with a fair chance in reaching long term financial health… I hope that during the next few days of knowledge sharing and peer learning, we will make great strides in advancing the financial well-being of the world’s underserved and unbanked even further. I wish you all a week of fruitful deliberations and please take some time out of your busy schedule to explore this hospitable and culturally rich country.”

This year, over 125 members from 52 financial institutions, representing 47 countries worldwide, are gathered for the CEMCWG, FIDWG, and FISPLG in Lilongwe. AFI working groups are the primary mechanism for generating and hosting knowledge within the AFI network and provide a platform for knowledge exchange and peer learning that allows policymakers to share and deepen their knowledge of key financial inclusion issues. Nearly 80 percent of AFI’s 83 member institutions form part of at least one of the network’s seven working groups.


“NFISs that prioritize digital financial services for marginalized groups,  such as women and youth can break down barriers to financial access and empower the next generation to build a more inclusive and resilient economy.”

– FISPLG Chair Mohanad Salous from the Palestine Monetary Authority



Now in its 22nd edition, the FISPLG meeting will provide members with a platform to brainstorm and share existing financial inclusion strategy insight, as well as to explore “new, rapidly emerging areas” like youth and monetary developments, explained AFI FISPLG Manager, Dieter de Smet. Having worked tirelessly to take stock of the current state of practice in financial inclusion strategies and their different phases among AFI and non-AFI institutions, FISPLG members will continue this vital work in the coming days, with a focus on youth financial inclusion strategies, how to best reach this essential demographic, as well as on the strategic incorporation of innovative financial channels such as cryptocurrencies and stablecoins. The latter will include a panel discussion and technical presentation by AFI partners Vodacom and Celo on the private sector’s perspective on Fiat-backed stablecoins and their use case in cross-border remittances and financial inclusion. AFI’s Senior Policy Manager of Gender Inclusive Finance (GIF), Audrey Hove will also be briefing members on effective ways of integrating gender and women into national financial inclusion strategies (NFISs). To round it all off, two highly anticipated KPs on youth financial inclusion and Fiat-backed stablecoins are expected to make their debut during this week’s FISPLG meeting.



“Targeted financial literacy initiatives and programs must continue and partnerships between the public and private sectors solidified. Policies must focus on creating an environment that encourages good market conduct in the financial sector as the only way of doing business.”

– CEMCWG Chair, Wati Seeto from the Reserve Bank of Fiji



CEMCWG members can look forward to participating in various subgroup discussions on critical contemporary customer empowerment issues like help and redress and financial education. The latter will form an important part of this year’s CEMCWG meeting as our rapidly digitizing world leaves consumers feeling increasingly unsafe and out of control, explained Boletawa who also serves as AFI’s CEMCWG Manager. “Financial literacy” can help customers navigate the digital sphere more confidently by informing them of their “consumer protection, data privacy, and data security rights”, ultimately leaving them feeling “more empowered”.

In 2022, CEMCWG members developed groundbreaking guidance on redress mechanisms and complaint handling for financial regulators. This came in response to the unprecedented demand from customers during the COVID-19 pandemic for faster, fairer, and more transparent financial services. As part of its 25 edition, CEMCWG members will build on this pivotal work with the drafting of key new knowledge products (KPs) on innovative tools for improving financial consumer protection, with a special focus on developing and implementing the eagerly anticipated Market Conduct Supervision KP expected to be released later this year. The group will also develop content for two new webinars set to take place later this year relating to effective redress mechanisms and the monitoring and evaluation of financial education programs, respectively.


“AFI Working Groups continue to provide the platform for sharing practical financial inclusion as well as the opportunity to develop guidance notes on financial inclusionthematic areas which have shaped policies in various countries” 

– FIDWG Chair, Dr. Settor Amediku from the Bank of Ghana



For the 27th FIDWG meeting, members can look forward to bringing financial inclusion data and measurement “to the next level” by optimizing data’s inherent quality as the “true drivers” of policy change, stressed AFI’s FIDWG Manager, Luis Trevino Garza. The year’s gathering will focus on devising innovative ways of using data to measure and boost financial health through financial inclusion policies; harnessing regulatory and supervisory technologies (RegTech and SupTech) to fully optimize financial inclusion data; using inclusive green finance (IGF) components to create new data sustainable ecosystems; and endorsing women’s financial inclusion by learning to master the key data factors driving it. FIDWG members are also expected to approve the final draft of the Gender Inclusive Finance Global Mapping – a one-of-a-kind project developed in collaboration with AFI’s GIF team that involves using data to identify the key factors impacting women’s financial inclusion. And to top it all off, several new knowledge products (KPs) are set to be released, relating to financial health measurement, RegTech and SupTech optimization for financial inclusion data, and… (spoiler alert) a third innovative new KP is on the cards and set to be announced during the AFI Global Policy Forum in Manila this September. Tick-tock…


About RBM

Founded in 1964, the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) issues and guarantees the stability of the national currency, the Malawian kwacha. Following its independence in 1964, RBM was mandated with supervising and conducting all monetary policymaking as well as ensuring that fiscal developments overseen by Malawi’s Ministry of Finance are consistent with national monetary needs and developments.

A principal AFI member since 2010, RBM takes part in all of the network’s seven working groups and has completed 11 of its 20 Maya Declaration targets, including the development of a national financial inclusion strategy, the introduction of financial education in the national secondary school curriculum, the promotion of mobile payment solutions, and a nationwide survey to evaluate Malawi’s financial inclusion progress.

About AFI

AFI is the world’s leading organization on financial inclusion policy and regulation. The global alliance is made up of 83 member institutions including central banks, ministries of finance, and other financial regulators from 75 developing and emerging economies. AFI works on empowering policymakers to increase access and usage of quality financial services for the underserved through formulation, implementation, and global advocacy of sustainable and inclusive policies.

The AFI Resource Centre

AFI working groups are the key source of policy development and trends in financial inclusion and serve as “communities of practice” on key financial inclusion issues. To this end, AFI recently launched the AFI Resource Centre – a web page primarily dedicated to showcasing a non-exhaustive list of high-level financial inclusion documents, policies, and initiatives developed and implemented by member institutions within the AFI network and beyond.




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