Yesterday, as part of G2012 Mexico, a virtual discussion focused on “Technology and Financial Inclusion” brought together leading ventures and experts to consider the opportunities and challenges facing the inclusive finance space. Co-moderated by CGAP and Ashoka Changemakers, the two hour conversation included panelists from FINO, IFMR, Simpa Networks, ShoreBank International, Alliance for Financial Inclusion, and ekgaon Technologies.
Questions covered a range of topics, from the promise of technology in achieving full financial inclusion to consumer protection issues to examples of innovative initiatives. The panelists focused on highlighting key aspects of financial inclusion, such as comprehensive access to a full suite of financial services – savings, credit, insurance – for economic development. Panelists pointed out that technology can be leveraged to offer improved or alternative delivery channels to access financial services, and also to make the services more affordable, convenient, and secure. At the same time, technology is often to seen to be the easy step, and really requires strong data frameworks operating in a contextualized and customized manner.
Another theme during the Twitter conference was the need to remain customer-centric. Especially with regard to consumer protection, participants felt that regulators and financial service providers alike have the responsibility of ensuring strong consumer protection. Moreover, panelists commented on the important of product design and awareness that reflects consumers’ preferences and user-friendliness.
Finally, the session highlighted innovative initiatives using technology for financial inclusion, including M-Pesa in Kenya, Eko in India, FINO in India, UBL Omni in Pakistan, ekgaon Technologies in India, and bKash in Bangladesh. Such initiatives are breaking new ground in building new models for financial inclusion.