Dear members, PURA VIDA and warm greetings from San Jose, Costa Rica!! This week, working groups for Financial Inclusion Data (FIDWG), Consumer Empowerment and Market Conduct (CEMCWG) and Global Standard Proportionality (GSPWG), are meeting from 23 – 26 May in the capital of San Jose, Costa Rica, co-hosted by the Superintendencia General de Entidades Financieras, (SUGEF) and AFI.
The three working groups are taking stock of different developments, deliberating the important recovery policies and synergies after the pandemic and the different angles many jurisdictions have adopted. Members are also discussing how to recognize, encourage and support technical knowledge exchange provided by the working groups to various In-Country Implementation (ICI) projects, across the different thematic areas.
“The CEMCWG, FIDWG and GSPWG have the opportunity to advance a collaborative approach, to develop the required protective policies and more efficient data frameworks to foster the proportionate application of global standards that are more suited to the contexts and realities of our jurisdictions”, AFI Policy Programs and Implementation Director Eliki Boletawa told participants at the start of the meeting.
This continues a series of first in-person working group meetings since 2019 in Kigali, Rwanda. Earlier this month, Financial Inclusion Strategy Peer Learning Group (FISPLG) and Inclusive Green Finance Working Group (IGFWG) met 9 – 12 May in Quito, Ecuador; followed by the Digital Financial Services (DFSWG) and the SME Finance (SMEFWG) working groups on 16 – 19 May in San Salvador, El Salvador.
Costa Rica calls for innovation and determination in financial inclusion
Praising the commitment of over 100 members who travelled to Costa Rica, the Superintendent General Rocio Aguila underscored the significance of the network that brings together a community of institutions, which “share the importance of financial inclusion as a catalyst” for integrating the unbanked into the formal economy and raising the standard of living for all through exchange of experiences, solutions and learning from peers.
Reflecting on the past two years of the global pandemic, Superintendent General told participants that the financial regulators and policymakers demonstrated how to respond to economic challenges of the health crisis while expanding their activities to reach more people and shield consumers from the effects of the lockdowns. While not fully recovered, economies are moving forward with stronger financial systems, she said and called for innovation and determination.
“Let us not see the pandemic only as a calamity in the face of what we must crumble, but rather as an opportunity to be more innovative, display our inventiveness and resume our work with even more determination”, Superintendent General Aguila told the regulators in her opening remarks.
An active member of AFI since 2013, SUGEF Costa Rica has been championing AFI initiatives, particularly gender financial inclusion and more recently, inclusive green finance, while also spearheading initiatives on digital financial services, credit information systems, consumer protection, and market conduct. SUGEF completed three out of its eight Maya Declaration commitments and is set to host AFI’s Latin America and Caribbean Regional Office.
The three working groups kicked off the meetings with Costa Rica presenting its financial inclusion journey, followed by a joint session on financial inclusion policy responses for COVID-19 Recovery when members engaged in technical discission on synergies of CEMC, Data and GSP during the recovery phase, led by Chairs of each of the three WG Chairs.
Engagement and complementarities with SSBs, financial inclusion country assessments
GSPWG recently published the Policy Model for Digital Identity and Electronic Know Your Customer (e-KYC), which prioritizes the security, reliability, and inclusion of the most vulnerable groups. A milestone in the current worldwide trend in developing a more conducive environment and robust infrastructure for digital financial services (DFS), this policy model also positively contributes to other policy areas, such as the collection of age- and gender-disaggregated data to enhance the financial inclusion of women and youth.
With 56 member institutions, from 55 countries, that have implemented 81 policy changes and developed 14 knowledge products, the GSPWG is a platform for exploring how best to implement global standards for financial stability and integrity proportionately, and ensure that financial inclusion is pursued in tandem with a safe and sound financial system.
Supporting data and measuring financial inclusion policies
Instrumental in driving the implementation of the Denarau Action Plan and advancing gender inclusive finance, the FIDWG enabled the collection of sex-disaggregated data within the jurisdictions of AFI members and more recently, proportionate implementation of global standards. While expanding the scope of financial inclusion sex-disaggregated data, FIDWG has been collaborating on AFI gender mapping project and establishing data frameworks to enable data collection by other working groups.
Made out of 63 member institutions, representing 61 countries, which implemented 93 policy changes and developed 27 knowledge products, FIDWG offers a common framework to assess and utilize data for evidence-based financial inclusion policies, develop quantifiable targets, and assess the success for both Maya Declaration Commitments and national financial inclusion initiative.
Knowledge sharing in consumer empowerment
CEMC members are engaging in discussions on the importance of financial health and consumer protection, especially in light of fast technological advancements, about the role of industry associations and bodies in ensuring consumer protection and market conduct, as well as how to support in-country implementation activities
With 65 member institutions, from 61 countries, that made 193 policy changes and published 28 knowledge products, CEMCWG supports consumer empowerment and protection to help secure access to and improve the quality of financial services. It also aims to develop and share cost-effective policy tools and lessons learned, and to promote their adoption at the national level and in a broader international context.
AFI working groups are the primary mechanism for generating and hosting knowledge within the AFI network and provide a platform for knowledge exchanges and peer learning that allow technical members to internally share, deliberate and deepen their knowledge and understanding of key financial inclusion issues across various thematic areas.
AFI is the world’s leading organization on financial inclusion policy and regulation. Over 100 member institutions make up the AFI network including central banks, ministries of finance and other financial regulators from 89 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