In a press release on Monday, Visa, Inc, CitiGroup and the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion, officially launched the Financial Inclusion 2020 Campaign. This joint effort will define and then advance a “roadmap” for an unprecedented teaming of global companies, lawmakers and regulators and will focus on accelerating efforts to bring together different world governments, NGOs, those in the private sector and others for better financial solutions.
The presser quotes Elisabeth Rhyne, Managing Director for the Center of Financial Inclusion,
Over two billion people worldwide lack access to basic financial services, missing out on opportunities to contribute to their countries’ growth. The goal of financial inclusion is to provide access to a range of quality financial services at affordable prices, delivered with convenience and dignity, while ensuring the right tools and protections are in place. This can change the course of an individual’s, family’s, or community’s future and build stronger and more resilient economies.
Realizing Full Financial Inclusion
It’s a big order, no doubt, but with companies and entire countries coming together, ultimately, it’s believed responsible access to credit, banking solutions, savings, insurance and other financial products can be created. Using the year 2020 as a focal point, FI2020 “aims to realize full financial inclusion by widening responsible action”. The question is, is this an initiative with long term potential? It will have to be if it’s to meet all of its targets. It’s one that must keep its energy and the leaders must remain committed and focused as well.
Pamela Flaherty, President and CEO of Citi Foundation and Director of Corporate Citizenship at Citi agreed and said her bank is pleased to lead along with Visa, in efforts of working together to define quality financial products and services that can only help not only economies on a national level, but on a global stage as well.
Expanding financial inclusion is both a development imperative for underserved communities and a forward-thinking approach to unlocking the economic potential of new markets.
She also said the range of financial services being made to available to under served markets is a priority and one she hopes the group will address in these early days.
You may recall a few years ago the survey that was conducted by the Center for Financial Inclusion that revealed what many financial leaders believed were the most pressing problems, especially from a consumer perspective. As a result of these massive efforts, the Opportunities and Obstacles to Financial Inclusion was written and published. This publication has served as the foundation for this new initiative. More than 50 companies and financial entities are working together to create the framework that will ultimately serve as the vehicle for change. It’s about better understanding the needs of the consumers and then taking that knowledge and putting it onto place to best serve them. At its core, one goal is to “diversify financial products available to low income clients”.
From a technological aspect, the analysis of how to reach customers while lowering costs and increasing security is a priority as well. For its part, Citi will initially focus on ensuring consumers know their rights and just as importantly, to ensure they have the “confidence to exercise those rights”. It’s a tall order, but one, if met, can mean an entire generation of better financially prepared adults who can take the reins over the financial futures in ways their parents and grandparents might only have dreamed of. As the presser reads, it’s about the ‘skills, attitudes, aspirations and confidence to exercise those rights”.
Another effort being made as part of this new program is to put into place better implementation of protection measures that will stabilize markets around the world. Credit reporting is another important element of the program with the goal of empowering young consumers with the knowledge to understand risk. The Head of Global Mobile Products for Visa, Bill Gajda, said it’s about the governments, private sectors and civil societies coming together with the common goal of “full financial inclusion”. He says it will enrich the lives of billions around the world while also driving various economies and even accelerating women’s empowerment. It could even greatly affect global poverty.
Is it too ambitious? No, not if all of these major global brands can remain committed. Later this year, in October, London will host “A Roadmap to Financial Inclusion” as part of the 2020 Global Forum. Using this platform, it will allow FI2020 to advance its efforts to “inspire investment in invisible markets”. This will allow the group to truly open up the channels for a broad range of partners to come aboard.
If we can get a broader group of stakeholders to see themselves as part of the movement,
said Michael Schlein, President and CEO of Accion, “this will be the moment when financial inclusion begins to be a reality”.
About The Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion
CFI was launched in 2008 to help bring about the conditions to achieve full financial inclusion around the world. CFI contributes to full inclusion by collaborating with sector participants to tackle challenges beyond the scope of any one actor, using a toolkit that moves from thought leadership to action.
Citi, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citigroup provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management.
Visa is a global payments technology company that connects consumers, businesses, financial institutions and governments in more than 200 countries and territories to fast, secure and reliable electronic payments. It operates one of the world’s most advanced processing networks – VisaNet – that is capable of handling more than 24,000 transaction messages a second, with fraud protection for consumers and assured payment for merchants.
So what are your thoughts? Do you think this is the right program that will finally bring together a global financial sector?
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