The International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Focus Group on Digital Financial Services (FG DFS) is set to meet in Washington DC, 27-29 April to discuss key elements of a global roadmap it is developing to help telecom and financial services regulators and operators around the world use digital and mobile technologies to address the issues around financial exclusion.
After months of research and investigation, each of the four Working Parties will unveil their initial findings and recommendations for the Focus Group to discuss, review and approve.
Speaking ahead of the event, Sacha Polverini, Chairman of the Focus Group and Senior Programme Officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Financial Services for the Poor (FSP) programme said: “The work we are doing is incredibly important. It is the first time ITU has partnered with international organizations like the World Bank, CGAP (Consultative Group to Assist the Poor), GSMA (Groupe Speciale Mobile Association), AFI (Alliance for Financial Inclusion) and others to initiate a forum like this. The objective is to develop practical tools that the sector can use to fast track international best practices and help an estimated 2 billion people who remain either unbanked or underbanked in a world that is becoming increasingly digitalized.”
Polverini added: “Each team is looking at the key issues which most experts agree are the main challenges that DFS faces. We have some of the world’s top specialists in their respective fields working alongside us.”
“Low levels of financial inclusion represent a barrier to socio-economic development in developing countries,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “Mobile money can be a game changer for people of limited income and an enabler for financial inclusion in developing countries. The recent growth of digital financial services has allowed millions of people who are otherwise excluded from the formal financial system to perform financial transactions relatively cheaply, securely, and reliably.”
Having mapped the key issues, researched the challenges and taken evidence from experts from around the world, each Working Group is moving towards finalizing some of their initial findings. Key deliverables that will be put forward for discussion in Washington include:
- Ecosystem: An analysis of the DFS ecosystem, government-to-person (G2P) flows and merchant acquisition. It will also be putting forward a draft standard MoU template for consideration which will provide for greater coordination between the telco and financial services sectors.
- Consumer Experience and Protection: An initial overview of the legal and regulatory framework for consumer protection and a report on quality of services issues.
- Interoperability: Will present an update on its proposed outline paper analysing the relevant layers and building blocks around interoperability which will map the existing environment and the ongoing development of a recommended toolkit.
- Technology Innovation and Competition: Provide an update on its forthcoming report on the evolution of technologies, competition and technical requirements in digital financial services.
Over 130 delegates from a diverse range of stakeholders are expected to attend, including financial service and telecom regulators, central banks, representatives from the corporate sector and leading academics.