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BRIEF July 18, 2019

Financial Inclusion Global Initiative (FIGI)

MULTIMEDIA

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The Financial Inclusion Global Initiative (FIGI) is a three-year program implemented in partnership by the World Bank Group (WBG), the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructure (CPMI), and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support and accelerate the implementation of country-led reform actions to meet national financial inclusion targets, and ultimately the global ‘Universal Financial Access 2020’ goal.

FIGI funds national implementations in three countries—China, Egypt and Mexico; supports working groups to tackle three sets of outstanding challenges for reaching universal financial access: (1) electronic payment acceptance, (2) digital ID for financial services, and (3) security; and hosts three annual symposia to gather national authorities, the private sector, and the engaged public on relevant topics and to share emerging insights from the working groups and country programs.

Together these organizations galvanize the work of the CPMI-World Bank Group Task Force on the Payment Aspects of Financial Inclusion (PAFI), the BMGF’s Level One Project, and the ITU Focus Group – Digital Financial Services, to deliver implementation solutions, deep topical analyses and practical investigations, working toward the goal of Universal Financial Access by 2020.

Financial inclusion is a critical enabler for poverty reduction and inclusive growth. Access to transaction accounts opens up a pathway to broader financial inclusion, whereby people and firms can make financial transactions more efficiently and safely, access funds (whether payments, credit, savings, or other) invest in the future, and cope with economic shocks. Access to transaction accounts also enables participation in the digital economy, and is a critical building block for digital development too.

As the world grapples with the COVID-19 crisis, the importance of digital financial services in providing secure, low-cost and contactless financial tools to individuals and businesses has become even more critical. In addition, the current COVID-19 pandemic has amplified urgency for digital financial services (DFS) to help reach underserved and vulnerable populations. This highlights the importance of our work at FIGI particularly during the pandemic, where the focus is on improving and accelerating drivers of DFS and support authorities to respond to respond to the crisis by taking measures such as speeding up COVID-19 related payments to firms and individuals, reaching remote populations, reducing the risks of cash, and enabling business continuity at a time of social distancing. 


FIGI Country Implementation Programs

FIGI funds national implementations in three countries—China, Egypt and Mexico. The FIGI country programs provide tailored support including: diagnostic assessments, advisory services, technical assistance, capacity building, and pilots of innovative approaches, relevant to digital financial inclusion, with a focus on improving the legal and regulatory framework and financial markets infrastructure. ITU also provides technical advice on ICT regulation and supervision, and network standards, relevant for DFS. Learn more about FIGI Country Implementation Program here.


FIGI Working Groups

FIGI supports working groups to tackle three sets of outstanding challenges for reaching universal financial access: (1) electronic payment acceptance, (2) digital ID for financial services, and (3) security. The FIGI Working Groups develop knowledge, technical tools, and policy recommendations, and both integrate and pilot global knowledge within FIGI countries. Learn more about the FIGI Working Groups here



FIGI Symposia

The FIGI Symposia are held on an annual basis over 2017-2020 to provide a forum for dialogue regulators from telecom and financial services, DFS providers and all concerned stakeholders to share their experience and views on the main challenges to be addressed for scaling up Digital financial services (DFS). To date, FIGI has held two annual Symposia: the first (2017) FIGI Symposium took place between November 29th, 2017 – December 1st, 2017 in Bangalore, India; and the second (2019) FIGI Symposium took place between January 21st–24th in Cairo, Egypt.

The main objectives of the Symposia are to:

  • provide a unique platform for regulators, policymakers and DFS experts to share lessons learned about the different digital financial models and services, the regulatory sandbox approach, ways to mitigate risks in fast changing ICT and digital payment environments, and the impact of emerging technologies on the ecosystem;
  • showcase digital financial inclusion initiatives and innovations taking place at the international level; and
  • provide thought leadership on digital financial inclusion strategies and technological innovations in the area of DFS.

The event brings together telecom/ICT and financial regulators, policymakers, digital financial services providers, payment system organizations and other DFS stakeholders from around the world.

Click here to learn more about the FIGI Symposia.