Promoting Global Financial Inclusion

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Over two billion people worldwide are financially excluded and ~200-250 million medium-to-small enterprises are underserved because neither pure cash systems nor the traditional banking model can effectively serve them. Despite proven demand for financial services at all income levels, the market system has failed to meet those demands, forcing billions of individuals and millions of micro, small, and medium size enterprises to rely on riskier and more expensive methods to save, borrow, and secure their assets. The fundamental elements of a financially inclusive ecosystem are in place (i.e., social sector, trusted intermediaries, retailing, technology, payments, banking, insurance, government and regulator); however, better coordination is required, particularly at the market level.

The Financial Inclusion project leverages the Forum's unique multi-stakeholder platform to facilitate opportunities for cross-industry and cross-sector collaboration to jointly address key issues, share common pitfalls and best practices, and design innovative solutions that lead to full inclusion. The project is tied to the Future of Financial and Monetary Systems Initiative.

In its engagement with multiple stakeholders, this project focuses on in-country/regional work streams that advance financial inclusion at the local and/or national level. Each of these work streams examines local barriers to full inclusion, and convenes experts from multiple industries and sectors to identify and implement solutions. Experts include professionals from financial services, telecommunications providers, retail and consumer industries, international development institutions, civil-society organizations, regulators, policy-makers and academia. All share the goal of developing sustainable collaborative models to promote improved access to, and adoption of, financial services. Lessons learned from these work streams are shared through convenings and knowledge products, bringing local work to the larger global context.

Objectives

The goal of this project is to identify and shape the highest-potential opportunities to accelerate financial inclusion through public-private collaboration at national, regional, and global levels. Through in-country work streams, the project aims to make demonstrable progress in building cash-lite ecosystems through low-cost digital payments, enabling data-driven underwriting and distribution models to deliver affordable, multi-product offerings to lower-income customers worldwide. These offerings must be centered on consumer needs to ensure adoption, and can include payments, savings, credit, and insurance, among others. 

Utilizing regional and global platforms to facilitate thought leadership and knowledge exchange between public and private sector leaders will be key to the success of this project.