Incoming Chair of the AFI Board of Directors - Opening Remarks at the 2017 Global Policy Forum (GPF)


The 2017 AFI Global Policy Forum (GPF)
Thursday, 14 September 2017, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt

Opening Remarks by Dr. Isaac Sidney Ferreira, Deputy Governor, Banco Central do Brasil

I would like to compliment:

His Excellency, the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt;

The Honorable Prime Minister of the Arab Republic of Egypt;

The Governor of the Central Bank of Egypt;

The Governor of the Central Bank of Tanzania;

The Executive Director of AFI;

The Governor of Bank Al-Maghrib;

The Director General of the Arab Monetary Fund; and

The other authorities attending the Global Policy Forum 2017 and all AFI members attending our event.

I would especially like to thank the words of Dr. Benno Ndulu, Governor of the Bank of Tanzania.

As I mentioned in my speech at AFI General Meeting, Dr. Ndulu is an example not only of dedication to the cause of financial inclusion, but also of leadership within the Alliance. Dr. Ndulu, my mission to replace you as the Chairperson of the AFI Board will be a great challenge. Therefore, I will be delighted if I can count on your advice and your experience in order to cope with this difficult task I am now presented with. I am pleased to assume the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion, an organization composed of more than 100 member institutions, representing more than 90 countries.

AFI members and AFI Board of Directors, I would like to thank you for your trust in Brazil, and for your trust in Banco Central do Brasil, institution that I am honored to represent.

I had the opportunity to state yesterday, during the closing of the General Meeting, that, although AFI is a relatively young organization, it has already taken on a prominent and prestigious role before the international community, consolidating itself more and more as a leading organization and a global reference on the financial inclusion of the underprivileged. This fact is reflected in the various participations that AFI has had, either directly or indirectly, in international fora such as the G-20 and Davos, for example.

It is also important to recall that the United Nations Agenda 2030, which has the main objective of eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, also recognizes the importance of financial inclusion. Several of the targets within the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals explicitly mention access to financial services. In this respect, there are two examples I would like to mention. One is the target for the use of new technologies in financial services. The other is the target for expanding access to financial services.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is necessary that we be prepared for the international rise not only of our organization, but also of financial inclusion as a topic of global interest. It is important to continue to invest in AFI by means of both the contributions from our members and partnerships with the public and private sectors. This investment will enable the Alliance to strengthen itself more and more as a leading international network in the research and exchange of experiences in financial inclusion.

It is also important that we be in line with the major advances in the provision of financial services. It is therefore essential that we consider, in our work, the major role that technology and innovation play in initiatives to promote financial inclusion. It is worth noting here the fundamental role of FinTech, which are capable of offering innovative financial services at a faster pace, lower costs, and less bureaucracy.

By using innovative technology and new methods in risk assessment, for example, FinTech have been successful in promoting access to credit by citizens who are still unbanked. Such great technological progress, however, has to be accompanied by a regulatory environment that provides security to FinTech users and to entrepreneurs who wish to operate in this segment.

Dear AFI members, the Alliance for Financial Inclusion is the most appropriate forum for sharing experiences and for mutual learning on new frontiers of financial inclusion, such as in the case of FinTech. In order to predict the future of AFI work, it is important that we remember that we are an extensive network of countries with distinctive characteristics, but also with regional and cultural similarities that can generate synergies. Brazil is proud to have made some commitments in partnership with AFI in this regard. I would like to highlight two of them.

One was the commitment made in November 2016, together with Costa Rica, to lead FILAC – AFI’s initiative for financial inclusion in Latin America and the Caribbean. FILAC has joined the other AFI regional fronts around the world in order to explore the characteristics of the various regions that constitute the Alliance. These regional initiatives enhance the development of financial inclusion policies that are more specific to local needs.

The other commitment I would like to highlight is one made in the form of a Technical Cooperation Agreement that Banco Central do Brasil, along with AFI, recently signed with the Central Banks of Portuguese-speaking countries to promote financial inclusion and financial education in Portuguese-speaking nations. In this respect, I shall go to Portugal soon after this Global Policy Forum, in order to advance in this linguistically regional agenda, which, as a matter of fact, presents great potential to bring new members and institutions to integrate AFI.

We want these and other initiatives to succeed – without ever withdrawing the collaborative global network character that is the foundation of our Alliance.

Dear Members, before closing my speech, I would like to highlight the importance of the GPF 2017 to our organization. We have an agenda full of themes and relevant lectures to explore diversity in promoting financial inclusion. I would like to emphasize the importance of the Sharm El Sheikh Accord, whereby we have made commitments resulting from our discussions on the links between financial inclusion, climate change, and green finance. Our commitments will certainly help to contribute for policy makers to consider and mitigate the impacts of financial inclusion policies on the climate.

Such commitments are indeed effective. Our experience with the Maya Declaration exhibits a portrait of countries that have made commitments with clear goals regarding objective and measurable levels of financial inclusion. Countries that set targets in the Maya Declaration have experienced a thirteen percent rise in the number of citizens who were banked, compared to only eight percent in the countries that did not set targets.

Lastly, I would like to assure to my AFI member colleagues, AFI partners and all stakeholders present here that I will work hard for the success of this organization, reinforcing its cooperative model and the principles of peer learning. I hope this edition of the Global Policy Forum in Sharm El Sheikh will be highly fruitful. I hope our agenda will be meaningful to all AFI members and to all other attendees who honor us with their presence in this Forum.

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