The AFI Global Policy Forum (GFP) is moving from the Red Sea to the Black Sea. AFI is pleased to present the city of Sochi, the Black Sea Pearl, as the home of the 10th AFI GPF in September 2018. Co-hosted by the Central Bank of the Russian Federation (CBR) and AFI, this is the first ever GPF held in the region of Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States — bringing together financial inclusion policymakers from around the world.
In the Russian Federation, uneven access to financial services and low levels of financial literacy have left approximately one-third of the country’s people either unbanked or underbanked. Residents of remote regions are particularly underserved as banks find it costly and unprofitable to set up and operate branches. However, geography and access challenges have been overcome to a certain extent through non-banking agents. Percentage of Russian adult population with an account at a formal financial institution increased from 48 percent in 2011 to 67 percent in 2014.
Advancing financial inclusion through digital financial services
Back in June 2011, the Russian government approved an action plan proposed by the Russian Ministry of Economic Development (MED) to further financial inclusion. Additionally, CBR and AFI hosted a workshop in Moscow in October 2014 on advancing financial inclusion through digital financial services.
Russia’s digital finance service industry has made considerable progress in recent years. The country has a well-established electronic money (e-money) ecosystem with its own industry association, the Russian E-Money Association, and PayPal as one of its members. Russians have also developed their own mobile wallet and e-money platforms such as Tinkoff Mobile Wallet, Yandex.Money and Visa QIWI Wallet.
There is tremendous potential for digital finance in Russia, given the current trends in mobile phone use. These trends open the door to new opportunities for digital financial services to reach more of the unbanked in Russia.
CBR champions Maya Declaration commitments
CBR’s top three thematic areas of commitments are SME Finance, Consumer Empowerment and Market Conduct, and Financial Inclusion Data. Through the Maya Declaration, CBR is taking the lead in galvanizing financial inclusion initiatives in Russia.
The bottom-up approach of the Maya Declaration ensures that policymakers can freely make commitments in areas considered key to promoting financial inclusion in their respective countries. The profile of institutions making commitments continues to evolve as policymakers are empowered through continued knowledge exchange and peer learning in the AFI network.
GPF to grace the Black Sea
More than four million people visit Russia’s largest resort each year to enjoy its coastline, beaches, warm and sunny weather and bustling nightlife. Located on the same latitude with Gobi Desert, Toronto, and the French Riviera, its subtropical climate makes Sochi one of Russia’s warmest cities throughout the year, with 300 sunny days annually.
The entire city of Sochi is a part of the State Natural National Park. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a city park known for its lively boardwalk and magnificent sunsets, with coastline nightclubs, green parks for strolling and Agura valley, outside the city, with waterfalls and panoramic views. The city’s population doubles from May to October, with country’s celebrities and political elite flocking to Russia’s Riviera. Sochi is also where the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev holds his summer residence.
The city earned its resort status in early 20th century with the opening of “Caucasian Riviera,” its first official resort. New roads, theatres, parks, hotels and spa resorts were constructed during the ‘30s, when the population grew from 17,000 to 72,000. In the early 90s, Sochi became the President’s traditional summer residence. The city of over 400,000 residents is known for holding the 2014 Winter Olympics and as one of the Russian cities that is hosting 2018 World Cup.
About the AFI Global Policy Forum (GPF)
AFI organizes the GPF as the keystone event for its membership. Each year, the Forum is co-hosted by a different member institution in a different region of the world. The Forum is focused on the development and improvement of national financial inclusion strategies and policies, and is used as a platform for senior financial regulators to exchange ideas and engage in peer-to-peer learning activities. Visit https://www.afi-global.org/global-policy-forum for more information.
About Central Bank of the Russian Federation (CBR)
CBR has been a member of the AFI network for more than 3 years. Also known as the Bank of Russia, CBR aims to protect the ruble and ensure its stability, promote the development and strengthen the Russian banking system, ensure the stability and development of the national payment system, develop the financial market of the Russian Federation and ensure its stability. Visit https://www.cbr.ru/eng/ for more information.