Dr. Alfred Hannig, AFI Executive Director, delivers opening remarks during 7th Experts Group on Financial Inclusion Policy (EGFIP) meeting.

23 June 2021

7th Experts Group on Financial Inclusion Policy (EGFIP) meeting – Opening Remarks by Dr. Alfred Hannig

7th Experts Group on Financial Inclusion Policy (EGFIP) meeting co-hosted with Financial Regulatory Commission of Mongolia (FRC)

Opening remarks by Dr. Alfred Hannig, AFI Executive Director 

Chairman Bayarsaikhan Dembereldash, Financial Regulatory Commission of Mongolia, Deputy Governor Vakhtang Abrahamyan, Central Bank of Armenia, Delegates from ECAPI member institutions, colleagues from AFI management unit, ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning, good afternoon, and welcome to the 7th EGFIP ECAPI forum virtually co-hosted by FRC Mongolia. I hope you are safe and in good health as we convene virtually to chart the next phase of accelerated growth for financial inclusion policy, intervention, and outcomes in the region.

First, kindly permit me to express my sincere gratitude to Chairman Bayarsaikhan Dembereldash, FRC Mongolia,and to the FRC team, for their excellent support as co-host for this meeting. While we would have loved to enjoy the Mongolian hospitality in-person, considering the prevailing global circumstances, we very much welcome the same level of warmth and spirit of camaraderie extended to all as we meet virtually. We do hope for physical meetings soon!

I would also like to welcome delegates from National Bank of Kyrgyz republic, National Bank of the Republic of North Macedonia and Bank of Albania who are joining us as an observer to experience the regional cooperation on financial inclusion initiatives in EECA region through the ECAPI platform.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me start by sharing some news about the position and outlook of our alliance. While we recognize the global health-crisis presented some shocks that many could not have forecasted, we are reminded daily (and in retrospect) the resilience present in humanity’s ability and capability to innovate and birth creative ideas in its most difficult circumstance, and this grows exponentially when network effect is applied. I am excited to report, this has been the experience of the network.

Furthermore, AFI has swiftly assisted members by implementing a COVID-19 Policy Response Project that has reinforced the network’s peer learning on sharing best practices for mitigation and resilience policy responses that address the adverse effects of COVID-19 on disproportionately excluded population. AFI’s collaborative approach is effectively applied to advance members financial inclusion policy implementation priorities at global level- through strategic partnership and initiatives, AFI has engaged with SSBs, advance economies regulatory institutions and other global institutions to elevate convergence topics that affect both emerging and advanced economies, such as new risks in financial inclusion such as cybersecurity and balancing financial inclusion, stability and integrity.

Esteemed participants,

It is exciting and pleasing to see over 30 participants across all the seven countries of ECAPI attend this virtual meeting. This participation attest to the relevance of AFI as a member-driven network, committed to active engagements in advancing financial inclusion policy at national and regional levels through knowledge exchange, peer learning and technical interventions that reflects the depth of unique knowledge and experience of members necessary for the development of regulatory guidance, insights on innovative policy developments and highlighting proven solutions in the field.

ECAPI has made tremendous progress and have made important contributions to the network despite of being relatively a young regional initiative within AFI. Important knowledge products such as Interoperable regional payments system for EECA region, financial competency matrix for children & youth, Regional Framework on e-KYC & e-ID and Supervision of Outsourcing of the Digital Services by Banks will be presented in this ECAPI meeting. I would like to thank and congratulate the teams who have worked hard towards development of these highly relevant KPs for the region.

I am confident that this important work on knowledge products will lead to an enhanced focus to advance implementation on the core financial inclusion objectives of the ECAPI set by the leaders of the member countries and also showcase EECA’s leadership in the network on these important and very relevant topics given the current environment we are in.

I would like to specially thank Governor Martin Galystyan and Deputy Governor Vakhtang from CBA for their leadership in driving the regional agenda of financial inclusion as the chair of ECAPI along with Central Bank of Russia as Vice chair in their term (2018-2020). I would also like to warmly welcome FRC Mongolia as the new chair of ECAPI for the term (2021-2023) to lead the regional initiative for the region. The Vice chair nominations are currently open, and we would welcome to receive nominations during this ECAPI meeting.

In October 2020, as you may be aware, AFI opened its European Representative Office (ERO) in Luxembourg with generous support from our hosts, the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of Luxembourg. The launch of this new office signifies an important milestone in AFI’s institutional evolution and its aim to enhance services to our members and expand and deepen strategic partnerships.

The ERO will foremost enhance member services to AFI members in the EECA region. We can already see such enhancements starting to take shape with the expected piloting of several virtual advisory services later this year which will enable highly focused peer exchange to answer specific policy questions we are receiving from your institutions. Through the ERO we are also strengthening cooperation with Standard Setting Bodies and Europe’s financial policymaking and regulatory authorities. This is very much in line with AFI’s regionalization and decentralization strategy. Additional capacity building and peer learning opportunities will avail themselves over the coming period. Some of the envisioned activities will be hosted by AFI in Luxembourg, and others in cooperation with AFI’s partners elsewhere in Europe.  We will inform you of these opportunities as they cristallize. 

We can already point to a number of examples of cooperation with developed country peers which are yielding important knowledge benefits for all participants. We are implementing these engagements under the umbrella of AFI’s Developed-Developing Dialogue, what we refer to as “3-D” where together we explore converging policy topics such as inclusive fintech ecosystems, digital financial literacy, cybersecurity, data privacy, consumer protection and inclusive green finance. We have expanded knowledge exchange on these topics with the European Central Bank, and I am pleased that colleagues from the ECB will share some of their insights later in this program.  We are also expanding cooperation with the Bank of France, German Bundesbank, Bank of Portugal, Bank of Spain, Bank of Finland, Bank of Estonia, Luxembourg’s CSSF and several others.  All of this is aimed to enrich capacity building of AFI members in the EECA region and globally. 

Esteemed participants,

The policy implementation trajectory in many of our members’ jurisdictions has been rapid and has led to policy innovation that is uniquely valuable within the context of developed-developing country peer exchange. Consequently, engagement with our members in this region and globally continues to be much appreciated by our European partners as it provides important opportunities for all participants to both share and learn.

I am pleased that this week’s program will bring diverse stakeholders to enhance our discussions, with perspectives from AFI member countries from Asia Region (BSP), Africa region (Bank of Ghana) and the ECB on RegTech and SupTech for effective supervision of DFS . AFI’s PPD partner Home Credit, as well as Sberbank, Association for Financial Literacy Development, FINCA, and Arifu (3rd place winner of winner of the AFI FinTech Showcase 2020) , to share their perspective on Digital tools for financial education and literacy in Rural areas and MSMEs. I would like to appreciate this participation from our knowledge partners and private sector partners who bring a multi-faceted dimension to our dialogue in this Regional Initiative.

Over the course of next 2-days we will deliberate on various important topics and policy initiatives taken to restart the economy to build a resilient, inclusive and a sustainable recovery from the current crisis. I would like to reassure of AFI’s commitment towards achieving the objectives and outcomes set by the leaders of ECAPI to advance financial inclusion in the region.  

On this note, I wish to thank you all once again for your participation and will leave you to take forward your deliberations and wish you a fruitful discussion.

© Alliance for Financial Inclusion 2009-2021