Forced displacement is one of the most pressing challenges of our time. With the number of forcibly displaced persons (FDPs) estimated at nearly 80million in 2019 globally, the scale of the crisis is impeding progress towards achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as commitments to “leave no one behind.” The protracted and complex nature of forced displacement requires that urgent life-saving humanitarian support be complemented by development action, such as financial inclusion.
Financial inclusion empowers FDPs to cope under extremely difficult circumstances while also meeting their broader, long-term financial needs. Access to formal financial services creates conditions for FDPs to establish coping mechanisms, build self-reliance and resilience, apply their skills and competencies, restore their livelihoods, realize their full potential, and live with dignity. In turn, they can contribute to the economic growth of their host country, voluntarily return home or resettle in a third country.
Specific challenges in advancing policy and regulation for the financial inclusion of FDPs include:
AFI supports peer-to-peer learning on financial inclusion initiatives that can offer the same opportunities for FDPs as citizens or other country residents, but only when adapted and applied appropriately. Successful programs and best practices indicate that it is necessary to carefully tailor approaches while taking the FDP context into account and adding complementary services where needed.
Financial policymakers and regulators in emerging economies are taking significant steps to adopt innovative policy and regulatory approaches in order to financially include FDPs. In the past year, several AFI members, such as Central Bank of Mauritania, Da Afghanistan Bank and National Bank of Rwanda, implemented policy and regulatory reforms that enhanced access to formal finance for FDPs living within their jurisdictions. This is in addition to efforts by other members, including Bank of Tanzania, Bank of Zambia, Bank of Uganda and Central Bank of Jordan, which have championed this issue for several years now.
Where appropriate, FDPs should be given the opportunity to indicate their individual preferences and needs. Displaced communities have an important role to play in designing local solutions to advancing financial inclusion.
Evolving payment landscapes and implementation of digital technologies, including biometrics and distributed ledgers, have the potential to substantially improve compliance, cost efficiency, and accountability for financial inclusion of FDPs.
Risk management should address barriers such as compliance with KYC requirements, and FDP issues within the context of NRAs and AML-CFT regulations is a priority.
Concerted coordination should continue among financial regulators and policymakers, global and regional standard-setting bodies, UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies, and civil society to develop a clear plan of action.
Financial regulators and policymakers can drive, influence, and facilitate efforts to design and offer formal financial services to FDPs by creating an enabling regulatory environment that fosters innovation yet still ensures sound compliance.