AFI Deputy Executive Director Norbert Mumba in Sochi, during 3rd AFI Working Group Leadership Meeting, Sochi, Russia, 3 September 2018.

Digita Financial Services Working Group (DFS WG) Management Virtual Meeting
Thursday, 2 April 2020

Opening Remarks by Norbert Mumba, Deputy Executive Director, AFI

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning. Good Afternoon. Good evening and welcome to the 1st Digital Financial Services Working Group Virtual Meeting. 

Let me start by thanking everyone for making time, regardless of the differences in time zones and circumstances around how and where we work, to attend this meeting. The AFI Management Unit recognize and appreciate this effort and commitment, as it is evident of a fruitful partnership that is even strengthened at this time amidst the global COVID-19 situation. 

It is exciting and pleasing to see over 70 Working Group members attend this virtual meeting. I would like to also take this opportunity to thank all members present today for your leadership, commitment and passion that you have put together to ensure that the Working Group remains as an essential platform for policy lessons, peer learning and best practices for the network despite the global emergency that has affected more than 100 countries. The global emergency is again a reminder of how important your work is to ensure our poor populations build resilience to shock. You are required more than ever before to provide policy leadership in developing innovative policies.

AFI has been a key player in the global movement on using digitization to accelerate financial inclusion for over a decade now and this is mirrored in how our DFSWG has become an anchor working group within the network.  DFS recorded the highest policy change within the network last year, accounting 33 percent of reported policy changes. 

Globally, we are witnessing transformative impact of combining fintech innovation, and responsive regulation in deepening financial inclusion. An approach validated by our Sochi Accord commitments which seeks to facilitate the development of policy and regulation in digital financial services, fintech and e-money for effective financial inclusion. 

To this end, the DFS Working Group successfully codified its relevant knowledge products into AFI’s maiden policy model - the e-money policy model which received a 100 percent validation at the last AGM in Kigali. Congratulations to the DFSWG for setting the pace so excellently. 

At this moment in time, when the countries of the world seek ways to respond and ensure the most vulnerable in society survive not just the COVID-19 epidemic but also mitigate the effects of a growing economic downturn, where the gig & informal economy, underserved and unbanked population are most affected, digital financial services and fintech innovations is showing great promise to help mitigate the impact on this hardest hit population and the innovative and appropriate policy and regulatory interventions are making these happen.

Therefore, as we celebrate the catalytic role of DFS in deepening financial inclusion, especially to the last mile and hard to reach populations, we are being confronted with emerging risks of its fast-paced growth across financial markets. It is encouraging to note that the DFSWG has taken note and currently working on knowledge products to facilitate policy development and capacity building of members in safeguarding the use of Digital Financial Services by consumers. Here they are jointly working with the CEMCWG to develop a policy model on consumer protection for DFS as well as guidelines on Digital Financial literacy. 

Beyond these, the DFSWG has developed a framework on cyber security, women’s financial inclusion leveraging DFS and supported regional efforts, including the framework on responsible digital credit and the regional regulatory sandbox guidelines for Africa and the Pacific region respectively. It is encouraging to see the positive impact of these outstanding deliverables in action today.

My charge to you at this meeting today as you discuss and take forward work on new deliverables, in areas and topic identified as necessary and relevant to the network, 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 whilst closing the gender gap, ensuring sustainability and achieving lasting financial inclusion.

On this note, I wish to thank everyone again for their participation and to AFI team for working hard in organising the webinar. I wish you all fruitful deliberations. 

Stay safe and social distance.

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