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Challenge of creating inclusive financial systems

Challenge of creating inclusive financial systems

7 December, 2011    

New technologies such as mobile phones are transforming the landscape of retail financial services.

New, non-financial services players such as mobile phone operators are entering the payment service business and extending access to financial services to people not previously reached by banks. There has been much growth of mobile-based financial services globally in recent years. South Africa itself has seen a recent increase of activity in this space with the introduction of new models such as FNB eWallet and M-PESA (Vodacom and Nedbank).

Mobile financial services have the potential to reach millions of unserved people, but also expose financial sectors and payment systems to new risks. Existing regulations and approaches to financial sector supervision do not yet fully address these risks.

To meet the growing need for appropriate regulation of mobile financial services, the Centre for Financial Regulation and Inclusion (Cenfri) and USB Executive Development (USB-ED), the public executive development and training company of the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB),  will host a seminar on the regulatory challenges of “mobile money” for thirty five developing country financial sector regulators.

The seminar will take place at the University of Stellenbosch’s Business School from 4-6 August 2010. The attending regulators and policymakers include central bank deputy governors and central bank heads of payment system and banking supervision divisions in Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Representatives from Mexico, Malaysia, Russia, the Philippines, Pakistan and Ecuador will also attend the event.

The seminar will provide a peer learning opportunity and help to establish a practical understanding of the new technologies and business models emerging in the area of mobile financial services.

“During the last few years there has been a growing interest globally and, specifically, here in Africa to provide financial services to people that have traditionally not been served by banks. Regulators now have to deal with the challenges of regulating unconventional, innovative financial services that are being created in response to this need” says Mr Doubell Chamberlain, executive director of Cenfri.

“This event will allow regulators to benefit from the experience of the leading countries facilitated by experts in this field. Regulators from Kenya, Mexico, Pakistan and the Philippines will share their own experiences on the regulation of mobile financial services with their peers and there will be much opportunity for discussion of the various challenges,” notes Chamberlain.

According to Mr Frik Landman, chief executive officer of USB-ED, the seminar provides USB-ED with the opportunity to engage with two areas of development which they are very passionate about –  financial services innovation and the training of African policymakers.

The Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) is funding the training event. AFI is a knowledge network of central banks and other financial regulatory bodies in developing countries. Its activities are funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The seminar will culminate in the establishment of the AFI Working Group on Mobile Financial Services. The working group will allow regulators and policymakers to continue sharing their experience in this rapidly evolving area of financial services and input this into the global regulatory dialogue.