Eliki Boletawa, AFI Policy Programs & Implementation Director providing his opening remarks at the 23rd CEMCWG, 25th FIDWG and 16th GSPWG Meetings in San Jose, Costa Rica.

23 May 2022

25th FIDWG, 23rd CEMCWG and 16th GSPWG Meetings – Opening Remarks by AFI Policy Programs & Implementation Director Eliki Boletawa

Mrs. Maria del Rocío Aguilar Montoya, General Superintendent of Financial Entities of Costa Rica 

Distinguished Guests, 

Mrs. Madalitso Chamba, Reserve Bank of Malawi and Chair of Consumer Empowerment and Market Conduct Working Group,  

Dr. Settor Amediku, Bank of Ghana and First Co-Chair – Financial Inclusion Data Working Group, 

Mr. Clarence Blay, Bank of Ghana and Chair – Global Standards Proportionality Working Group, 

Members of CEMC, FID and GSP working groups 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

BIENVENIDOS, WELCOME to these working group meetings!!  

“PURA VIDA” / “ENJOY LIFE” (!!) is the national motto of Costa Rica, and truly it is the most fitting phrase in this beautiful city that beckons all of us to live and enjoy life, especially after these two years of Pandemic, after which we are finally able to meet each other physically and participate. 

Permit me to take a moment to convey my appreciation to the General Superintendent and General Intendent, as well as the outstanding team at SUGEF Costa Rica, for organizing these meetings for the AFI Network, as well as the warm reception and wonderful arrangements that were prepared for us. 

Since 2013, SUGEF Costa Rica has been an active AFI member. At the regional level, SUGEF aims to be the host of the Latin American and Caribbean Regional Office and has always championed AFI initiatives, particularly women’s financial inclusion and, more recently, inclusive green finance, while also being heavily involved in spearheading initiatives related to digital financial services, credit information systems, consumer protection, and market conduct. SUGEF has been committed to eight Maya Declaration targets from the inception of the Maya Declaration Commitments, with three already completed and the rest on the way. 

In this regard, on behalf of the Executive Director, Dr. Hannig, and the AFI Management Unit, we would like to express AFI’s gratitude at being able to physically engage today, after more than two years of global hardship and uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are grateful for the commitment, collaboration, and flexibility of AFI member institutions such as SUGEF Costa Rica, which have willingly and consistently moved the needle in terms of financial inclusion policymaking, especially in such tough circumstances as some of those presented globally in recent years. 

The AFI Working Groups represent the heart of AFI. The presence of approximately 100 member representatives here today in the aftermath of the global pandemic reflects the importance that your institutions give to these meetings as the core of financial inclusion policy development and leadership globally. Our joint Working Group Meetings begin with the convergence of the Consumer Empowerment & Market Conduct (CEMC), Global Standards Proportionality (GSP) and the Financial Inclusion Data (FID) Working Groups are organized here in San Jose, following other two successful working group meetings held in the Latin America and the Caribbean region. We started with the Financial Inclusion Strategy Peer Learning and Inclusive Green Finance Working Group Meetings between May 9th and May 12th in Quito, Ecuador; continuing with the Digital Financial Services and the SME Finance Working Group Meetings between May 16th and May 19th in San Salvador, El Salvador, we are now concluding our series of working group meetings here in San Jose, Costa Rica.  

Ladies and Gentlemen,  

In the upcoming days, the working groups represented today, CEMC, FID, and GSP working groups will be taking stock of the work so far delivered on the three policy areas by the respective working groups and will setup the next actions to deliver and implement additional technical knowledge and experiences to further close the financial inclusion gap.  

With respect to this, the GSPWG has always been an important working group to represent our membership before the various Standard Setting Bodies, by sharing the conditions and contexts that may be overlooked when establishing new financial standards, be they on integrity, prudential or any other global policy setting.  

In addition, the GSPWG has recently published the Policy Model for Digital Identity and Electronic Know Your Customer (e-KYC), a milestone in the current worldwide trend toward developing a more conducive environment and robust infrastructure for digital financial services. These conditions also contribute positively to other policy areas, such as the collection of age- and gender-disaggregated data to enhance the financial inclusion of women and youth. In addition, the policy model’s policies prioritize the security, reliability, and inclusion of the most vulnerable groups. 

The Consumer Empowerment and Market Conduct Working Group (CEMCWG) has been very active in responding to the COVID19 pandemic hardship from a financial consumer protection and financial education perspectives. Two recent knowledge products, the Guideline Note on Financial Consumer Protection during a Crisis and the Guideline Note on Integrating Vulnerable Groups in National Financial Education Programs and Strategies are responding to policy needs surging during the recent global crisis.  

Additionally, the CEMCWG has delivered two Toolkits in each main policy area: one in financial consumer protection, Complaint Handling in Central Bank Toolkit, and the Toolkit on Financial Education Programs Monitoring and Evaluation, so relevant to measure progress in financial education.   Finally, a policy framework on Financial Competency Matrix for Children and Youth, so important in the design of financial education programs for these critical segments of the population.  

Speaking about measurements and data, the Financial Inclusion Data Working Group (FIDWG) was the first Working Group to be established due to the urgent need to enable a common framework to assess financial inclusion and proactively utilize data to inform evidence-based financial inclusion policy. In retrospect, its emphasis was vital in establishing explicit financial inclusion objectives, developing quantifiable targets, and assessing success for both Maya Declaration Commitments and national financial inclusion initiatives. 

With the move to policy implementation, this Working Group has been instrumental in driving the implementation of the Denarau Action Plan and advancing women’s financial inclusion by enabling the collection of sex-disaggregated data within the jurisdictions of AFI members and more recently to enable proportionate implementation of global standards.  

The FIDWG has been expanding the scope of financial inclusion sex-disaggregated data, collaborating on an AFI gender mapping, and establishing data frameworks to enable other working groups’ data collection. The FIDWG and SMEFWG recently published a case study from the Morocco SME Observatory, an institution supported by Bank Al-Maghrib, on Data Collection Process and Defining Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises. The study emphasized the importance of collaboration and technical scope in collecting relevant data on MSMEs to guide their development policies. The same subgroup also developed Policy Framework on MSME Data Collection: A Guide for Gender Inclusive Finance, which will help accelerate women-owned enterprise financial inclusion, the last frontier for sex-disaggregated data.  

The Special Report on Regulatory and Supervisory Technologies for Financial Inclusion was recently published as a result of a collaborative effort by many subgroups, including DFSWG, GSPWG, FIDWG, and CEMCWG, which contributed specific case studies. This knowledge product lays the groundwork for further exploration and development of the various opportunities offered by RegTech and SupTech solutions in an increasingly digitized financial world. Allowing policymakers and financial service providers to optimize their processes, build better monitoring, and provide more timely insights for defining, guiding, and evaluating financial inclusion policymaking. 

We would like to express our gratitude to the CEMCWG, the FIDWG, and the GSPWG members for their tireless effort and commitment to developing and adopting these knowledge products, which we intend to use as policy guidance in drawing up policy at the country level. 

Given that the recovery phase is at the forefront of global policy agendas, it is essential that the three working groups identify the policy areas that will help to a swift and seamless recovery. During the current pandemic, women, youth, and forcibly displaced people were and continue to face greater social, economic, and financial difficulties. The financial awareness and literacy aspects, as well as financial consumer protection, are of the utmost importance during this period of economic recovery, when numerous financial innovations have led to the introduction of new services and when assistance programs for coping with health emergencies and economic hardships are ending. At this time, it is of utmost importance to assess the key issues that must be addressed through protection and awareness policies, improved data collection systems, and the revision of global standards in order to prevent additional strain on governments during the economic and financial recovery period.   

Therefore, the CEMCWG, FIDWG and GSPWG have the opportunity to advance a collaborative approach, to develop the required protective policies and more efficient data frameworks to foster the proportionate application of global standards that are more suited to the contexts and realities of our jurisdictions.   

Ladies and Gentlemen,  

As AFI network is heading to the full recovery of the global pandemic and new uncertainties are appearing in the horizon it is time to reflect on the path we have tread together and setup the way forward. AFI services have evolved in the past more than ten years – as AFI has expanded, as AFI network members have made significant progress and as the financial inclusion horizon has drastically changed. Therefore CEMCWG, FIDWG and GSPWG will play a key role in developing the guidance and knowledge that will enable the AFI Network employ effective interventions. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Allow me to end by reminding you about the upcoming 2022 AFI Global Policy Forum – the first one after two years of global pandemic hardship to be held in the Dead Sea, Jordan from 6th – 8th September 2022 under the theme MOVING FORWARD, TOGETHER: TOWARDS A RESILIENT, INCLUSIVE AND SUSTAINABLE FUTURE“. We are working closely with our co-host the Central Bank of Jordan to create a milestone event. We again expect this to be a memorable GPF- and the Working Groups will play a key role in its success.   

I wish to again congratulate the Superintendencia de Entidades Financieras, SUGEF, Costa Rica for hosting these meetings and to give a warm welcome to the CEMCWG, FIDWG and GSPWG representatives, Policy Managers and AFI team for facilitating these meetings. I trust that you will find your participation worthwhile and wish you all fruitful deliberations, and a successful week ahead.  

Thank you for listening 


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