1 June 2020
Central Bank of Armenia and the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) are organizing the 5th Experts Group on Financial Inclusion Policy (EGFIP) Meeting on 1–3 June 2020, the first AFI regional initiative to be held virtually given the magnitude of the global crisis posed by COVID-19.
Financial sector regulators and policymakers from seven countries represented by AFI’s Eastern Europe & Central Asia Policy Initiative (ECAPI) are attending the event to exchange knowledge and experiences. These include the central banks of Armenia, Belarus, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as well as the Agency for Regulation and Development of the Financial Market of the Republic of Kazakhstan and Financial Regulatory Commission of Mongolia.
“We are proud to have a long history of productive cooperation with AFI. Armenia hosted working group meetings and Joint Learning Programmes and now we host ECAPI-EGFIP virtual meeting. Although we are unable to meet you in person due to current situation worldwide, nevertheless we are pleased that the digitized world allows us to connect people from different countries and at the same time let us stay at our places safe and healthy. I am more than confident that effectiveness of our work will not suffer,” said Central Bank of Armenia Deputy Governor Vakhtang Abrahamyan.
Central Bank of Armenia Deputy Governor Vakhtang Abrahamyan highlighted that as a member-driven platform ECAPI gives a range of possibilities to improve the availability and quality of financial services across the Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) region.
“The EGFIP meeting is a great opportunity to share key achievements and current challenges of member countries and explore peer learning opportunities to address specific challenges in responding to the current situation,” Central Bank of Armenia Deputy Governor Vakhtang Abrahamyan explained.
ECAPI members will take part in discussions on the implications of COVID-19 for the EECA region, alongside the network’s global partners and funders. ECAPI will focus on peer learning opportunities to address specific challenges in responding to the pandemic, particularly in consumer protection, financial literacy, digital financial services and financial technology for financial inclusion.
“Financial inclusion is one of the few solutions available that can immediately address the issues facing hard-hit economies across the network. With our members in Europe and Central Asia, we are discussing the AFI COVID-19 Policy Response, which combines quick, needs-based, highly practical and high-impact interventions that enable the implementation of rapid response policies and regulations in highly affected countries that are structured to meet members’ needs in the short and medium term,” said AFI Executive Director Dr. Alfred Hannig.
AFI Executive Director Dr. Alfred Hannig outlined three areas of opportunity for regulators amid the current crisis. Firstly, he noted how ongoing movement restrictions were allowing digital finances to develop crisis responses that were fast, accurate and immediately available. Second, he said that the incorporation of inclusive green finance into recovery measures could bring about a “new economy” that is green, resilient and socially inclusive. Third, was that the crisis provided opportunities to strengthen the gender lens, drive women’s economic participation and enable transformative opportunities while leaving no one behind.
“We look forward to working with EECA countries and providing complimentary support to the responses undertaken by the central bank and supervisory authorities to mitigate challenges related to the crisis,” said AFI Executive Director Dr. Alfred Hannig.
The three-day meeting will also conduct developed-developing country dialogue on cybersecurity, followed by a member training on digital financial literacy. Officials who have been closely involved in the work related to regulations on DFS with a focus on cybersecurity and financial literacy would benefit most from this training.
AFI, in collaboration with members of ECAPI, will also launch three publications that help the region build its library of knowledge in support of policymaking that accelerates financial inclusion, and can be applied by AFI members beyond ECAPI. The Long-Term Effectiveness of Financial Education Classroom Workshops in Rural Areas: The Case of Armenia; The Financial Competency Matrix for Adults: A Policy Framework; and Key Facts Statements for Credit: Do They Work? The Experience of Armenia are all available for download on the AFI website.
“Knowledge products from EECA region will lead to an enhanced focus in advancing implementation of ECAPI’s core financial inclusion objectives, including to share regional financial inclusion lessons among ECAPI members and with the wider AFI network, facilitate high-level discussions among ECAPI leaders to provide strategic guidance on addressing the region’s financial inclusion challenges and elevate the voice of the EECA region on key financial inclusion policy issues,” said AFI Executive Director Dr. Alfred Hannig.
As part of efforts to intensify knowledge sharing and peer learning, as well as provide more effective and tailored services to the network’s current and prospective members in Europe and Central Asia, AFI’s Board of Directors has approved the establishment of AFI Europe Representative Office in Luxembourg. After AFI’s Africa Regional Office, this will be the organization’s second office outside its headquarters in Kuala Lumpur. AFI’s Latin America and the Caribbean office is expected to be launched in Costa Rica later this year.
Launched in 2018, ECAPI is AFI’s newest regional initiative and the primary platform for AFI member institutions in the EECA region to support and develop their financial inclusion policy and regulatory frameworks and to coordinate regional peer learning efforts. ECAPI aims to resolve regional challenges and elevate the voice of the EECA region on key financial inclusion policy issues. Within ECAPI are technical staff who make up EGFIP are nominated as primary or alternate members and are directly involved in the technical work of financial inclusion.
About Central Bank of Armenia
Central Bank of Armenia (CBA) is the central bank of the Republic of Armenia whose primary goal is to ensure price and financial stability. Headquartered in Yerevan, it is an active member of the AFI network. Since having joined the network in 2011, it has made six Maya Declaration Commitments, including to further enhance its knowledge, understanding and skills to deepen financial inclusion within its national borders, as well as share its experience with peer countries. Among CBA’s financial inclusion priorities is in financial literacy, with financial literacy assessments used to develop the Armenian National Strategy for Financial Education (NSFE) in 2014. In the same year, CBA launched its Financial Capability Assessment Project to develop a national baseline for financial capability in Armenia and identify measurable targets for the NSFE. www.cba.am
AFI is the world’s leading organization on financial inclusion policy and regulation. Roughly 100 member institutions make up the AFI network including central banks, ministries of finance and other financial regulators from over 80 developing and emerging countries. 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. www.afi-global.org