6 March 2018
It’s an exciting week! Together with Comisión Nacional Bancaria y de Valores de México (CNBV), AFI kicks off the 15th Consumer Empowerment & Market Conduct (CEMC) and 17th Financial Data Inclusion (FID) Working Group meetings in Merida, Mexico, from 5-8 March, 2018.
“Working groups are the content backbone of the AFI network and strategically positioned to support the vision of AFI in becoming a policy leadership alliance,” emphasized Norbert Mumba, AFI Deputy Executive Director during his opening remarks earlier today. He also reflected that AFI services have evolved over the past 10 years — as the AFI network expanded, more members made significant progress in changing the financial inclusion horizon.
Packed with more than 80 enthusiastic FIDWG and CEMC members from at least 50 AFI member countries, the first day of the 4-day event had members of both the working groups converge to discuss common priority issues, identify complementary activities and discuss possible collaborative knowledge product publications.
During her opening remarks, Armenuhi Mkrtchyan from Central Bank of Armenia and Chair of the CEMC Working Group conveyed that “more effective solutions are needed to assure sustainable policies” in advancing financial inclusion. By increasing access to, and use of, innovative, low-cost financial tools and applications, digital financial services open new opportunities for improving overall levels of financial inclusion.
However, as digital finance continues to advance, tools to enforce market conduct need to be re-designed to address new risks. The CEMC Working Group has a vital role to play in providing policy guidance that addresses consumer protection risks and challenges in the digital age, and ensuring there is sufficient protection of consumer data. With the rapid expansion of technology, financial consumer empowerment anchored on prudent and transparent market conduct must be the cornerstone of a country’s financial system.
Mexico’s National Financial Inclusion Survey in 2015 showed that 12.7 million adults were financially included, growing from 36 percent in 2012 to a significant 44 percent in 2015. During her presentation on the country’s financial inclusion journey, Laura Ramos, Director for Access to Finance from CNBV and Chair of the FID Working Group, stated that “Mexico has made several efforts towards achieving a greater degree of financial inclusion over the last decade.”
However, despite progress, there are still 43 million Mexicans without a formal savings account. The impact on financial inclusion efforts is limited by the predominant use of cash, which is associated with cultural factors. This has translated into high inactivity levels of accounts.
The FID Working Group has been instrumental in identifying best practices for collecting sex-disaggregated data more effectively, and setting measurable targets for both Maya Declaration Commitments and national financial inclusion strategies. A key target for CNBV is to ensure that 75 percent of Mexican adults have at least one formal financial product or service by 2021.
“Smart policies need smart tools; Financial Capability Barometer is one of the tools we can use,” said Dr. Arthur Pokrikyan, Financial Education Expert from Central Bank of Armenia during his presentation, which led to an engaging breakout session among working group members.
The next three days will see both FIDWG and CEMC members gather in their respective working groups to discuss cross-cutting policy topics with implications across every financial inclusion policy area including trends in financial consumer protection policy and regulation, and various data challenges related to gender, national strategies, and digital financial services.