Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso took part in the landmark signing of new Maya Declaration commitments between Superintendencia de Bancos (SB) and AFI at a ceremony organized as part of a regional training event in Quito on 22 November. President Lasso is the first head of state to witness such an event.
SB, one of AFI’s newest members having joined the network in October 2020, announced four new Maya Declaration commitments on consumer protection, transparency, financial stability and financial integrity, with a focus on the financial inclusion of women.
“We are going to reduce gender gap in access to credit in electronic payment systems. We will promote a modern, competitive and democratic economy,” said President Lasso during the ceremony, adding that the development ratified Ecuador’s “commitment to work to strengthen access to financial services”.
He highlighted the importance of Maya Declaration commitments in creating greater employment opportunities for thousands of people. They could, he explain, enable people to start businesses, improve their quality of life and drive forward targets set out by 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, especially those that target women, youth and older persons.
In front of journalists and flashing cameras, President Lasso was joined by SB Superintendent Ruth Arregui and AFI Executive Director Dr. Alfred Hannig at Carondelet Palace, the seat of government and official residence of Ecuador’s president.
“We confirm our institutional commitment to promote inclusive financial systems,” said Superintendent Arregui while detailing upcoming planned activities. The Quito-based regulator oversees the operations of Ecuador’s financial institutions and regulates its social security system.
Over the next five years, she explained, SB will work on strengthening consumer protection by improving supervision, data protection, transparency and dispute resolution mechanisms and complaints.
SB aims to improve the transparency of the financial banking system by providing timely, clear and transparent information about public and private banks, developing key financial indicators for analyzing and evaluating financial stability and existing gaps between various population segments. SB also pledged to strengthen risk-based supervision methodologies and update risk management standards.
“[SB’s] commitments regarding financial consumer protection and stability and integrity are in addition to the commitments previously made by the Superintendencia de Economía Popular y Solidaria (SEPS),” AFI’s Dr. Hannig said during the ceremony. “We are confident that these new commitments will drive Ecuador’s financial inclusion agenda.”
The signing ceremony was part of a two-day regional training event, co-hosted by SB and the Association of Private Banks in Ecuador with support from AFI, which aims to highlight measures that build resilience and inclusive corporate governance with a gender focus. It forms part of a series of tailor-made virtual and physical events for AFI member institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean, which are being attended by governors, superintendents and other leaders of AFI member institutions in the region.
The second half of the week is dedicated to regional training on inclusive green finance and gender inclusive finance policies. Co-hosted by SEPS, SB and AFI, participants will be given technical guidance on gender and green inclusive finance, their emerging intersects and how to integrate them in national financial inclusion strategies.
This is the first time that members and other stakeholders have been able to meet face-to face at a network event since the global outbreak of COVID-19.
Measurable financial inclusion commitments
Most AFI member institutions have set measurable commitments to accelerate financial inclusion in their jurisdictions through the Maya Declaration, the world’s first agreement of its type for developing and emerging market economies.
As of 10 September 2021, 82 AFI member institutions in 73 countries have made Maya Declaration commitments with a total of 885 individual targets, mostly in digital financial services, financial inclusion data as well as financial literacy and financial education.
According to the World Bank’s 2017 Global Findex Database, just over half of adults (51 percent) in Ecuador owned an account, with the gap between men and women standing at 18 percent. These findings were reinforced by a financial capabilities survey conducted by CAF during the pandemic, which showed that 56 percent of men in Ecuador own a savings account compared with 52 percent of women. When faced with a sudden financial shock, 47 percent of men respondents said that they would be able to pay for it without borrowing from others, versus 32 percent of women.
SB’s public announcement complements targets already being progressed by SEPS, the country’s regulator for savings and credit cooperatives, real estate cooperatives, associations and other aspects of the “solidarity” economy.
Starting November 2019, SEPS has made eight Maya Declaration commitments, including to develop regulation that supports women’s financial inclusion, cybersecurity controls, financing for small and medium enterprises and technological innovation for the delivery of financial services. It has also pledged to develop inclusive green finance through the implementation of social and environmental risk management, as well as the general regulation of green credits.
Of the eight, it has already completed its commitment to develop and implement an interactive data portal that allows the access and use of the financial inclusion indicators by citizens, researchers and authorities.
This year marks the tenth anniversary since the launch of the Maya Declaration at the 2011 Global Policy Forum in Mexico’s Riviera Maya. As a statement of common principles regarding the development of financial inclusion policy, the Maya Declaration is a global initiative for responsible and sustainable financial inclusion that aims to reduce poverty and ensure financial stability for the benefit of all.
AFI is committed to supporting its members in fully achieving their commitments to contributing towards more inclusive development and poverty alleviation. For more information, please go to the AFI Data Portal.