The Digital Finance Future – January 25, 2017, photos by Ralph Alswang
Photos by Ralph Alswang
Attendees at Table 2 discuss how culture and history can often be barriers to financial inclusion. In particular, corruption issues often break trust and confidence in systems, especially digital ones, which keeps many of the unbanked populations dependent on the cash economy and discourages them from operating in the formal finance sector.
Participants at Table 1 use an ecosystem perspective to examine some roadblocks to financial inclusion, such as competitive tax environments and lack of interoperability among telecom, banks, government and private finance companies. They suggest creating safe spaces for cross-sector involvement with incubating solutions and innovating financial service and product offerings.
Lang Gao, Senior Research Assistant at Agricultural Science & Technology Indicators, explains how digital financial services could be desirable for and scalable in agricultural communities by appealing to famers’ need for information. A few participants suggested making digital an add-on feature to other tools, such as mobile apps about climate change and crop diversity or GPS mapping services to help with land management.
Mannie T’Chawi , Co-Founder of LayerCake, shares his experience working in Tanzania to explain how people living in rural and urban areas have different needs that digital financial service providers must consider in order to translate their platforms across diverse communities and help improve the financial health of all people.
Adva Saldinger, Impact Reporter and Associate Editor at Devex, addresses the challenges to adoption of digital financial services by asking fellow participants what strategies will help create want and instill value in new technologies and financial offerings.
Stijn Claessens reports key insights from his table’s small-group discussion, calling attention to the role that trust and confidence play in the experimentation and adoption of digital financial services
In a conversation on measuring success of financial inclusion, Paul Nelson, Digital Finance Advisor at USAID, suggests thinking beyond traditional metrics – like number of bank accounts or access to digital technologies – and instead thinking creatively about overall financial health.
Eduardo Tugendhat, Director of Thought Leadership at The Palladium Group, shares highlights from his table’s discussion, noting the private and philanthropic sectors’ influence in bringing a wider range of stakeholders to the financial inclusion conversation and in driving innovation in financial service offerings specifically for rural and agricultural communities.
Andriatsitohaina Jaona, Economic Counselor at the Embassy of the Republic of Madagascar, explains how financial inclusion is happening in his home country. Currently, a few private mobile phone companies in Madagascar offer their customers banking services.
Max Mattern engages the full group on the benefits to financially including and building capacity in agricultural communities, which are home to 1.5 billion people and produce food for 80% of the world’s population.
Rosita Najmi, Program Officer at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, shares ideas for advancing financial inclusion with particular emphasis on how inclusion can drive global economic growth, trade and investment.
Max Mattern, Head of Financial Sector Analyst, Customer & Provider Solutions at CGAP, frames the discussion around the financial inclusion of rural and agricultural communities, whose economically disadvantaged position is further compounded by certain financial policies and regulations as well as geographic and cultural barriers.
Stijn Claessens, Senior Advisor for the Federal Reserve System’s Board of Governors, gives a featured presentation on the challenges and opportunities to advancing digital financial inclusion through policy and regulations.
Attendees focus their attention on Stijn Claessens who explained how existing regulations like “Know Your Customer” laws, which prevent banks from being used for money laundering or other criminal activities, are applied to smallholder farmers but not relevant to their daily needs or operations.
Alonzo Fulgham, President of Galileo Energy Partners BV and Meridian Trustee, welcomes guests and openes the session by emphasizing the importance of digital financial services in Sub-Saharan Africa, where 66 percent of the population is financially excluded and, among that group, 71 percent live in rural areas.
Puru Trivedi, Associate Director of Business Development at Meridian International Center, and Sahra English, Vice President of Global Public Policy at MasterCard, catch up in advance of the program. MasterCard, a member of Meridian’s Corporate Council, recently launched a program to develop training courses in digital financial services in francophone markets of Africa.
Desiree Cormier, Director of Africa Practice at Albright Stonebridge Group, and Erin Murphy, Founder of Inle Advisory Group, connect ahead of the session. Both women advise on growth and development opportunities in emerging markets.
Mugendi Zoka, Second Secretary of Political Affairs at the Embassy of Tanzania, and Eduardo Candido Albino Zaqueu, Minister Counsellor and Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of the Republic of Mozambique, greet each other before The Digital Finance Future program begins. Both diplomats represent countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, the region of focus for this convening session.