6 April 2020

Three working groups kick off inaugural webinars

Financial regulators from three AFI working groups gathered for the first in a series of virtual webinars aimed at driving progress in deliverables amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and reinforcing network bonds.

AFI Deputy Executive Director Norbert Mumba opened the sessions on inclusive green finance (IGF) and digital financial services (DFS) by praising “members’ commitment despite the challenging circumstances we are facing because of COVID-19”.

He reiterated that the work of AFI and its members across various thematic areas has the potential to make “a big impact” by shaping financial inclusion regulation that can also shield disadvantaged groups from the worst impacts of the ongoing outbreak.

“The global emergency is again a reminder of how important your work is to ensure our poor populations build resilience to shock,” he said. “You are required more than ever before to provide policy leadership in developing sustainable policies.”

Around 150 people took part in the webinars on April 1 and 2, including 68 from the DFS Working Group (DFSWG), AFI’s largest working group.

The working group’s co-chair, Central Bank of the Russian Federation’s Nadezhda Prasolova, and vice co-chair, Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) Ihab Nasr delivered presentations on progress among subgroups, discussed deliverables as well as next steps.

Prasolova expressed her thanks to the subgroup leaders “who continue to work excellently”. She added that while “we have ambitious plans, I’m confident that we can achieve them. We must remain committed”.

Meanwhile, Nasr underscored the importance of working together to boost both access and consumer protection for digital finance.

“As DFS WG members, we have a responsibility to transfer our knowledge in FinTech services and I urge everyone to collaborate,” he said. “It is our duty to make sure that people in our countries can access digital financial services safely.”

A few hours earlier, nearly 40 participants from across all of AFI regional initiative attended IGF Working Group’s (IGFWG) inaugural webinar. The event spotlighted the Sharm El Sheikh Accord, as well as synergies between IGF and gender inclusive finance. IGFWG has so far scheduled a further three webinars in the coming weeks.

Working group members also discussed the progress and timelines for IGFWG’s three subgroups on climate risk insurance for the agricultural sector, the promotion of IGF to the private sector and the role of central banks in greening the financial sector.

CBE’s Walid Ali, who also chairs the IGF Working Group (IGFWG), expressed his optimism about the working group’s future.

“I am happy to see the number of new members since our last meeting in Kigali, Rwanda last year,” he said. “We are the newest working group, but we already have three knowledge products and achieved one policy change.”

IGFWG, which was officially launched last September at the 2019 AFI Global Policy Forum in the Rwandan capital of Kigali, is made up of 40 members institutions from 37 countries.

The previous day, more than 40 members from AFI’s Consumer Empowerment and Market Conduct Working Group (CEMCWG) took part in a technical webinar on customer centric approach and behavioral insight for consumer protection. The event centered on presentations by Isabelle Barrès and Eric Noggle from the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion.

Here, discussions covered topics including the use of behavioral economics in market conduct policy and how it can better inform consumers about fraud and misinformation, particularly among groups with low levels of literacy or financial literacy.

While each webinar showcased a specific area of expertise, a notable theme running across the webinars was that of collaboration and the need to work together to exchange knowledge and learn from best practices.

This sentiment resonated with AFI’s Mumba, who told participants: “Let us, as a collective, continue to push the boundaries for innovative and proportionate regulatory policies that will support the network in confronting and mitigating existing and new challenges to availability, access, usage and quality of financial services while closing the gender gap, ensuring sustainability and achieving lasting financial inclusion.”

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