24 September 2018

Strong call for regulators to be at the cutting edge of embracing FinTech for financial inclusion at the ASEAN e-Financial Inclusion Forum

“Regulators need to remain at the cutting edge of mitigating risks and maintaining financial stability in this ever-changing world of technology,” emphasized Norbert Mumba, AFI Deputy Executive Director at the three-day ASEAN e-Financial Inclusion Forum, taking place from 24-26 September, 2018.

Hosted by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), the ASEAN e-Financial Inclusion Forum is gathering over 150 financial inclusion policymakers from the region to share insights and exchange views in discussing innovative digital strategies to accelerate financial inclusion. 

An estimated 1.7 billion adults worldwide and 40% of the ASEAN adult population do not have access to basic financial services. Lack of sufficient money, appropriate documentation to open and maintain accounts, but also accessibility are among key reasons quoted for low usage of financial services. Including everyone in the financial system is fundamental for inclusive growth.

“The rise of FinTech calls for regulators to recognize the associated risks, and search for proportionate regulatory approaches that balance inclusion, stability and integrity,” said Thomas Tan, Director of the Development Finance and Inclusion Department, BNM during his welcome remarks at the forum.

According to AFI Deputy Executive Director, Norbert Mumba, “the AFI network has already recognized and embraced the use of financial technology as a key enabler to scale financial inclusion. The network has applied a systematic approach in promoting and enabling technology to play this significant role in financial inclusion.”

AFI members unanimously adopted the Sochi Accord on Fintech for Financial Inclusion at the 2018 AFI Global Policy Forum (GPF), held on 5-7 September 2018 in Sochi, Russia. The Sochi Accord calls for action from the AFI network to leverage technology for financial inclusion including FinTech solutions to mitigate the impact of de-risking, bridge the gender gap, build resilience against the risks of climate change and increase consumer protection.

“Unlocking the full potential of FinTech for financial inclusion should be staged and progressive, focusing on four main pillars,” highlighted Professor Douglas Arner, Kerry Holdings Professor in Law, University of Hong Kong while introducing AFI’s framework on FinTech for Financial Inclusion at the forum.

The framework is based on four major pillars: Digital ID and eKYC; Open Electronic Payment Systems; Account Opening & Digitization of Payments; and Design of Digital Financial Market Infrastructure and Systems. The four pillars give a foundation for an evolving digital financial ecosystem and help economies maximize the financial inclusion benefits from FinTech while also balancing financial stability, consumer protection and financial integrity.

“New players and new ways of financial service delivery require regulatory approaches and capabilities that reinforce public confidence in financial services that leverage technology,” added Norbert Mumba, AFI Deputy Executive Director.

The ASEAN e-Financial Inclusion Forum will be followed by a two-day BNM-AFI Peer Advisory Service training, FinTech: Boosting Financial Inclusion, happening from 27-28 September, 2018. This training is designed to take forward the strategic discussions and decisions taken at the GPF themed Innovation, Inclusion, Impact to the in country implementation level.

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