Financial Inclusion Initiative for Latin America and the Caribbean (FILAC)
7th Experts Group on Financial Inclusion Policy Virtual Meeting
Thursday, 16 July 2020
Opening Remarks by William Orie, Deputy Governor Centrale Bank van Suriname
Mr. Norbert Mumba, Deputy Executive Director of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion, Mrs. Zaira Badillo, Head of Latin American Countries Region, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.
On behalf of the Governor of the Central Bank of Suriname, Mr. Maurice Roemer, I would like to thank AFI for the honor to do the opening of this meeting that would initially take place in Suriname. It is the second time since joining the Alliance for Financial Inclusion in 2015 that we participate in an event of the Financial Inclusion in Latin America and the Caribbean Initiative (FILAC). We underscore the importance of such regional meetings, as most countries in our region share specific characteristics and face more or less the same challenges. In addition, it gives us as policymakers the opportunity to share context-based experiences and knowledge among each other.
With the COVID-19 pandemic hitting the world, we witness more than ever the importance of Digital Financial Services, and the significant role it plays in stimulating financial inclusion for the vulnerable groups, especially Micro Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) and Women globally. Digital Financial Services has indeed become indispensable!
Suriname consists of a coastal area with concentration of economic activities and financial services and a sparsely and scattered populated hinterland, deprived of financial services. From an economic point of view, it would be too costly to reach out to the hinterland. Digital Financial Services enable us to deliver such services, especially benefitting MSMEs and women.
We are cognizant of the importance of legislation and regulations regarding supervision, stable connectivity, good cybersecurity, consumer protection and financial literacy in promoting digital financial services. As we, all know, especially in small developing states, which are characterized by among others, capacity constraints and the development of the enabling environment, will take time.
The Central Bank of Suriname has started to promote digital payment transactions, while the enabling environment is being built. In 2015, we introduced the Suriname National Electronic Payment System (SNEPS) to promote payment transactions. The Bank also increased its technology-driven innovation in financial services (FinTech), with the introduction of the Innovation Hub and the Regulatory Sandbox. In addition, the Surinamese Banking Association has launched a national awareness and behavioral change campaign in 2019, together with several stakeholders, including the Central Bank of Suriname, in which it stimulates and increases financial inclusion and digital payment.
As is the case worldwide, the COVID-19 pandemic has hit MSMEs in Suriname the hardest. Suriname has many women-owned small businesses and we believe that educating this group will have high payoffs. For obvious reasons, we believe when you educate women, you educate a nation!
We are in the preparation phase to conduct our first Financial Inclusion and Education baseline study, with the support of AFI. The results will guide our policy formulation.
In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Alliance for Financial Inclusion for their noble work worldwide and in particular in our country. On behalf of the Governor of the Central Bank of Suriname, I wish you a very fruitful time and we hope to welcome you to Suriname in the future.