Digital financial services (DFS) comprises a broad range of financial services accessed and delivered through digital channels, including payments, credit, savings, remittances and insurance. It also includes mobile financial services.
Non-traditional or legacy financial institutions, services and products differentiated by technology are rapidly becoming mainstream, thereby, creating digital financial services (DFS). DFS, therefore, are a broad range of financial services accessed and delivered through digital channels, including payments, credit, savings, remittances and insurance. The digital financial services (DFS) concept includes mobile financial services (MFS) – The use of a mobile phone to access financial services and execute financial transactions. This includes both transactional services, such as transferring funds to make a mobile payment, and non-transactional services, such as viewing financial information.
DFS are typically distributed using “digital channels” which in the context of this document refers to the internet, mobile phones (both smartphones and feature phones), ATMs, POS terminals, Kiosks, NFC-enabled devices, chips-based cards, biometric devices, tablets, phablets and any other digital system or instrument. DFS business models usually employ agents and the networks of other third-party intermediaries to improve accessibility and lower the overall service delivery cost. These services are changing business models, distribution channels and consumer engagement approach, thereby, democratizing the access, usage and quality of financial services such as payments, savings, credit, investments, etc… across the globe. Now, commonplace DFS models such as mobile money, branchless banking and other digital payment mechanisms have been critical in providing safe, convenient and cheaper payments and financial services to the market including previously financially excluded populations.
The use and promotion of digital financial services (DFS) to advance financial inclusion seems a natural marriage as technology act as a perfect enabler of the elements identified to foster inclusion of the unbanked and achieve financial inclusion as indicated in the Global Findex data9 where countries like India and Guatemala recorded considerable positive outcomes from the implementation of digital biometric ID and rules around AML to simplify KYC respectively. DFS, through the diverse digital channels and models, can offer personalized services and offerings to the market, reducing if not removing the barriers associated to access, usage and quality of financial service compared with the formal traditional financial systems.
Digital Financial Services (DFS) has been a cornerstone of AFI’s work since its inception. This continues to be a key focus area for AFI members, as use-cases evolve with new and emerging technologies and the overlap with other core mandates of regulatory and policy making objectives of market conduct, consumer protection, financial inclusion data and strategies, not forgetting SME finance. Furthermore, the rapid technological advances of DFS have increased the scope of work in this space significantly. The proliferation of digital identity systems, data driven financial products/services, crypto-currencies, blockchain applications, new ways for governments to augment the supervision of the financial industry and for the industry to automate compliance, all have immense potential for the member-base of AFI, hence, creating new opportunities for AFI to provide policy leadership, facilitate peer-learning and knowledge exchange, guidance and implementation support and extensive advocacy. AFI therefore, with the partnership with its members actively work towards improving the financial inclusion index globally with concrete commitments from members registered through their respective Maya commitments and increasing support for in-country implementation and measurable policy changes.
DFS has been a cornerstone of AFI’s work since its inception. AFI and its members are actively working towards improving financial inclusion globally through their Maya Declaration commitments and increasing support for in-country implementation and measurable policy changes.
Fundamental and emerging topics under DFS are explored in-depth through AFI’s Digital Financial Services Working Group (DFSWG).
“Digital financial services contributed to increasing financial inclusion of women, but in some countries, it has been disproportional. Even though access to finance for women is rising, the gender gap is still persistent” (Dr. Alfred Hannig, Executive Director, AFI).
The key to success in financially empowering women is through gathering data, analyzing insight and continuously crafting effective strategies to engage and include women.
Reflects the network’s financial inclusion intervention priorities, DFS targets make up a significant share of Maya Declaration commitments with at least one appearing in every 50 commitments. DFS is among the top three working groups — alongside CEMC and FID — in terms of a continued uptick in commitments that address the usage and quality of financial inclusion.
|Primary thematic area||2012||2013||2014||2015||2016||2017||2018||2019||2020|
Digital financial services
|Maya Declaration targets||38||52||68||72||89||95||111||160||165|
AFI’s Digital Financial Services Working Group (DFSWG)
A platform for policymakers to discuss regulatory issues relating to digital financial services, including mobile financial services, branchless banking, electronic money and digital payment solutions.
DFSWG aims to promote digital financial services as a major driver of greater financial inclusion in emerging and developing countries.
It encourages policymakers to exchange experiences to develop a shared understanding of the risks in emerging digital financial services business models. At the same time, it works with global standard-setting bodies in order to represent the voice of developing and emerging countries.
Ehab Nasr, Central Bank of Egypt
Alejandro Medina, SPS Peru
Candy Ngula, Bank of Namibia
Gender Focal Point
Clarissa Kudowor, Bank of Ghana
DFS and Consumer Protection Policy Model Subgroup (jointly with CEMCWG)
Digital finance platforms are offering new ways to pay, transfer, save and borrow money, as well as new ways to create livelihoods and to access capital goods and productive assets. However, these fast-developing innovations also bring new risks new consumer protection risks and challenges in areas such as disclosure, marketing, product suitability and data protection13. The objective is to synthesize and harmonize key learnings, adaptions, policies and knowledge products on DFS, consumer protection and market conduct into a standardized model for integrating consumer protection within the life cycle/value chain of DFS – i.e. from design to usage.
Data Protection & Privacy Subgroup
The digital economy is experiencing fast transformation through increasing innovations in the use of data to develop new products and services whilst improving consumer experience and interface. A key factor to the increasing digitization is the harnessing of consumer data across different platforms, products and services. This is giving rise to new intermediaries mobilizing data for financial services providers such as fintechs companies to develop new tools and services for consumers. It is also providing the opportunity for consumers to access wider range of financial products and services which wouldn’t have been possible with traditional financial services. As digitization becomes sophisticated and extensive in scope, they have elevated concerns about data privacy, consumer control and transparency, and the necessity for coordination, standardization and regulation.
In view of the importance of data privacy amidst the increasing digitalization of financial services, AFI’s DFS working group intends to develop a guideline note on data privacy for digital financial services. The guideline note will provide global best practices and policy/regulatory recommendations on data privacy within the context of fintech and financial inclusion.
QR Code Standardization Subgroup
As the AFI network embrace digitizing payments as one of the key pillars to drive financial inclusion, many member countries identify QR Code-based payments and the plethora of use cases it presents as an enabler for the next wave of inclusive digital payments ecosystems by lowering transaction costs, making retail digital payment transactions easy and intuitive, reducing cash transactions and their associated risk and providing tools for efficient monitoring and oversight. Hence, the objective is to produce a knowledge product that provides guidance and actionable tools for regulators to adapt to their jurisdictions and needs as their national payment systems evolves.
Digital Financial Literacy and Capability subgroup (jointly with CEMCWG):
The digitalization of financial landscape and the need to strengthen digital financial literacy are at the heart of regulators agenda. Digital tools appeal to different segments of the population, and a main question would be to know how to achieve an inclusive use of digital tools. Financial literacy is still not priority for most adults and there are cost implications for financial literacy and capability campaigns. Other challenges faced in the implementation of digital tools for financial capability include behavioural bias and lack of trust. Jointly with the DFSWG, CEMCWG aims to develop an appropriate and effective guideline to aid regulator in the oversight of safe, accessible digital tools that promote financial capability and builds consumer trust in digital platforms.
Innovative Regulatory Approaches Subgroup
To foster responsible financial innovation that improves efficiency, nurtures new opportunities, provide safeguards and robust risk mitigation, and achieves the mandates of financial inclusion by improving the access, use and quality of financial services
RegTech Technical Taskforce (DFSWG Focal Points)
|Events||1st: Cape Town, South Africa|
2nd: Bali, Indonesia
|3th: Bangkok, Thailand|
4th: Riviera Maya, Mexico
|5th: Moscow, Russia|
6th: Cape Town, South Africa
|7th: Antigua, Guatemala|
8th: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
|9th: Arusha, Tanzania|
10th: Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago
|11th: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia|
12th: Maputo, Mozambique
|13th: Yerevan, Armenia|
14th: Nadi, Fiji
|15th: Accra, Ghana|
16th: Sharm ElSheikh, Egypt
|17th: Aman, Jordan|
18th: Sochi, Russia
|19th: Nassau, The Bahamas|
20th: Kigali, Rwanda
|21th: Virtual Meeting|
22th: Virtual Meeting
|23th: Virtual Meeting|
24th: Virtual Meeting
Trends and recent research by the Bank of International Settlement indicates an acceleration in the exploration of central bank digital currencies (CBDC) globally. Within the AFI network, about 40 percent of members have conducted experiments with 10 percent at pilot stages. This reflects a significant interest in understanding, exploring, and taking forward CBDC related interventions by the AFI network, as seen with the recent launch of Sanddollar by the Central Bank of The Bahamas.
The objective of this technical webinar hosted by the DFSWG was to address these questions through a plenary session delivered by technical experts, regulators and industry stakeholders, including country sharing from the AFI network. The webinar deep-dived into identifying the motivating factors for this growing interest, and its implications to monetary policy, financial system integrity & stability, consumer protection, and especially linkages to financial inclusion is therefore imperative.
The AFI network-wide webinar with BigTech leaders, ecosystem experts and financial regulators discusses the role of BigTechs and digital platforms in response to the global emergency, the linkages on deepening financial inclusion, as well as how these technology players align and support regulatory measure and policy interventions. Topics covered include: digital infrastructure resilience, provision of essential services such as groceries and deliveries, payments and financial services, cybersecurity and fraud, compliance and measures to check high risk, AML/CFT transactions, and other broader policy and regulatory concerns such as data protection, data privacy, competition, awareness/education and consumer protection.- Read More