AFI Steering Committee

The AFI Steering Committee held its first meeting in Bangkok on July 10. At the meeting, members expressed strong support for AFI’s long-term vision to become an independent organization run and owned by policymaking institutions in developing countries. They decided that the Committee should be called the “Steering Committee” and proposed a two-tier membership structure for the AFI network. The draft AFI by-laws were reviewed by the members and will be finalized at the second meeting of the Steering Committee.

Members pointed out the need for AFI to interact closely with standard setters and to engage policymakers from countries who are not yet AFI members. They welcomed the establishment of the AFI Donor Coordination Mechanism and suggested a two-way information exchange between the Steering Committee and donors.

Members also requested that AFI undertake a stocktaking on existing financial inclusion survey projects, methodologies and concepts, and expressed their interest in launching an AFI flagship project on using survey data to design financial inclusion policies. Current data and survey projects will be presented at the upcoming Nairobi event.

The members of the Steering Committee will be rotated over time. Existing members have been chosen because of their track records of innovation in financial inclusion and to ensure a regional balance within the Committee. Members of the Committee are:

• Tarisa Wantanagase, Governor of Bank of Thailand,
• Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr. Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Philippines,
• Njuguna S. Ndung’u, Governor of Central Bank of Kenya,
• Guillermo Babatz, President of National Banking and Securities Commission of Mexico
• Alfred Hannig, Executive Director of AFI, and
• Christoph Beier, Director General, Asia Pacific, Latin America, Caribbean, GTZ

AFI Committee endorses by-laws

Third AFI Steering Committee endorses by-laws, confirms commitment

The AFI Steering Committee met for the third time on 20 January 2013. Meeting via video-link up, discussions centered around key issues of governance and of future strategic direction. Opening the meeting, Committee Chair, and Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya Prof. Njuguna Ndung’u, acknowledged a number of important developments that have taken place since the last meeting of the Committee in September last year and urged fellow members to “lead the way – with home grown financial inclusion policies…to grow and develop the network.”

In a major development for AFI governance, the Steering Committee approved and endorsed the ‘AFI by-laws’, enabling a solid governance guideline and base for the ongoing development of the network. The group also moved forward with discussions and planning for the selection of the potential additional members of the Committee as well as for Steering Committee Independent Advisor. A number of potential shortlist countries were identified from focused candidate search will now be initiated.

In the area of strategic direction, the Committee were updated a number of key issues including various collaborations with other stakeholders , AFI member surveys, AFI secondment programme and potential venues of the next Global Policy Forum. Specific updates were given on recent and ongoing collaboration by AFI on the G20 Financial Inclusion Initiative and the planned creation of AFI working groups on focus issues such as M-banking and financial inclusion data. The Steering Committee confirmed their support and active issues in these areas.

“AFI is poised to play a very critical role as new financial system architecture is developed and unveiled. On our part as Steering Committee members, we shall continue to provide the necessary support. It is also important that as AFI members, we keep on interacting and sharing information sets that will enrich our financial inclusion initiatives” said Professor Ndung’u in his closing remarks, underlining the Steering Committees ongoing commitment to the AFI network and activities.

Representatives of the Pacific Central Banks Working Group meeting

Policymakers and practitioners meet in Egypt to discuss potential of microinsurance

On 18-19 December 2013, the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority (EFSA) organized a seminar in Cairo to share information on successful policy and regulatory approaches in the area of microinsurance and to increase awareness of the market dynamics and potential of this sector in Egypt and the MENA region.

Supported by an AFI grant, this first-ever regional seminar on micro-insurance in the MENA region seminar brought together a range of public- and private-sector stakeholders to exchange knowledge on practical solutions and industry approaches for expanding the uptake of microinsurance products and services. It also identified some key barriers for developing appropriate microinsurance solutions for low-income people and strategies to overcome these.

EFSA is a public policy institution responsible for licensing and regulating non-bank financial markets and instruments. Among its core activities, EFSA is responsible for developing the Egyptian insurance sector and for protecting the rights of insurance policyholders.

2009 Alliance Financial Inclusion Policy Forum

14 – 16 September 2009
Windsor Golf Hotel & Country Club
Nairobi, Kenya

AFI’s first Global Policy Forum in Nairobi brings together policymakers from 40 developing countries

100 policymakers from more than 40 developing countries, in addition to around 70 strategic partners, met in Nairobi 14-16 September for the first-ever Global Policy Forum of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI). A year after AFI was established, the Forum, co-hosted with the Central Bank of Kenya, provided a platform for central banks and other policymaking bodies in developing countries to share knowledge and experiences in expanding access to financial services.

The Forum succeeded in its objectives of building a vibrant community of policymakers who feel free and able to share their knowledge of policy solutions that work, and of drawing on the collective knowledge of AFI members and strategic partners, including researchers, donors and the private sector, to create a practical roadmap for moving forward.

Each day of the Forum had a different theme, each one addressing the key issues needed to bring smart policies to life:
· The first day of the Forum focused on Key Financial Inclusion Policy Challenges and saw speeches by high-level dignitaries such as the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance of Kenya and Professors Njuguna Ndung’u and Benno Ndulu, the Governors of the Central Banks of Kenya and Tanzania, respectively. The day brought us up to speed on the state of financial inclusion worldwide, with discussions on key regulatory challenges such as the role of data and survey methodology and compliance with international standards.
· The second day aimed at Generating Practical Answers Together, through interactive “fishbowls” or roundtable discussions covering AFI’s six key policy areas: agent banking, mobile banking, diversification of products and providers, state bank reform, financial identity and consumer protection. Throughout the day, “out of the box” side events offered participants fresh perspectives and new learning opportunities in the area of financial inclusion.
· The third day centered on Experiencing Smart Policies in Action, with policymakers and practitioners showcasing how they have brought smart policies to life. Through demonstrations of agent banking in Brazil, the M-PESA mobile banking phenomenon in Kenya, and role plays on consumer literacy and on getting a biometric financial identity card, we were put in the shoes of a person without access to financial services.

Interim results of a survey conducted immediately after the Forum points to a remarkable level of satisfaction amongst participants. An overwhelming 70 percent of respondents so far reported being “very satisfied” with the Forum, with an additional 29 percent stating they were “satisfied.” Policymakers and partners who attended the Forum appreciated the unique opportunities it offered for networking and knowledge-exchange and the interactive nature of the sessions, with practitioners doing the teaching. The diversity of participants, topics and formats was also singled out as a key reason for the Forum’s success. The topic of mobile banking generated particular interest at the Forum, with the M-PESA demonstration and the mobile banking fishbowl the most top-rated sessions.

AFI Membership Climbs to 64 Countries


AFI Membership Climbs to 64 Countries

64 countries have now joined or agreed to join AFI, representing nearly 70% of the world’s unbanked population. Tonga and Solomon Islands are the latest countries to agree to become AFI members.


AFI’s first Global Policy Forum in Nairobi brings together policymakers from 40 developing countries

100 policymakers from more than 40 developing countries, in addition to around 70 strategic partners, met in Nairobi 14-16 September for the first-ever Global Policy Forum of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI). A year after AFI was established, the Forum, co-hosted with the Central Bank of Kenya, provided a platform for central banks and other policymaking bodies in developing countries to share knowledge and experiences in expanding access to financial services.

The Forum succeeded in its objectives of building a vibrant community of policymakers who feel free and able to share their knowledge of policy solutions that work, and of drawing on the collective knowledge of AFI members and strategic partners, including researchers, donors and the private sector, to create a practical roadmap for moving forward.


More than 60 Countries Form New Global Alliance to Increase Access to Financial Services

The Alliance for Financial Inclusion brings together central banks and other partners, representing nearly 70 percent of the world’s unbanked. The global network will develop and implement policies to reach millions across the developing world by expanding access to financial services.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept. 14 — Nearly 100 central bankers and other financial policymakers gathered here today for the official launch of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI), a coalition of countries from the developing world committed to making savings accounts, insurance, and other financial services available to millions of people living on less than $2 a day.

Research has shown that better access to financial services can fuel economic growth by raising national income via increased savings and investments in poor households as well as in small and medium enterprises. This access also enhances financial stability by injecting formal savings into the system, diversifying the capital base, and providing stability during global downturns. Yet, an estimated 2.5 billion people – over half the world’s adult population – do not have access to savings accounts and other financial services.

AFI’s global network will enable developing countries to share knowledge so they can more effectively develop and implement policies designed to expand access to financial services. While many of the smartest policies to expand financial access have come from developing countries – such as mobile phone money transfer services in Kenya and agent banking in Brazil – knowledge of these solutions is scattered in pockets around the globe.

“The unique aspect of AFI is that it puts us members in the driver’s seat to identify and create solutions to increase the availability and choices of financial services in our own countries,” said Tarisa Watanagase, governor of the Bank of Thailand and AFI member. “Since we understand our countries’ circumstances better than outside organizations, AFI creates an exceptional forum for us to share policies that work and learn from other policymakers about solutions that work for them.”

AFI members gathered in Nairobi this week for the Global Policy Forum, a three-day meeting marking the coalition’s first-annual conference. Conclusions drawn at the forum will inform financial sector reforms, which members can consider for implementation in their nations.

The Right Honourable Raila Odinga, Prime Minister of the Republic of Kenya, will open the conference, followed by presentations by governors and high-ranking representatives from central banks around the world.

AFI members have chosen to focus on six policy areas to increase financial inclusion for their respective countries: agent banking, diversification of financial products and providers, state bank reforms, financial identity, consumer protection and mobile phone banking.

“In Kenya we have pioneered innovative solutions like M-Pesa, a system of money transfer via mobile phones, that other countries can borrow and learn from,” said Njuguna Ndung’u, governor of the Central Bank of Kenya and AFI member. “In the same way we share a solution that has worked for us, we are looking to the AFI network to help introduce us to our next big idea, such as using agency models for financial service delivery.”

Based in Bangkok, Thailand, AFI is managed on behalf of its members by the German development organization Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH and supported with a $35 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“AFI’s peer-to-peer knowledge exchange model is playing a key role in amplifying policy solutions that work,” said Alfred Hannig, executive director of AFI. “The most realistic and successful solutions for including poor people in the formal financial system are being innovated among our members in developing countries.”

This grant is part of the Gates Foundation’s Financial Services for the Poor initiative, which is working with a wide range of public and private partners to harness technology and innovation to make safe places to save and other financial services accessible to poor people in the developing world.

“The demand for financial services – especially savings – is enormous in the developing world,” said Bob Christen, director of Financial Services for the Poor at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “AFI will help foster the spread of new and innovative efforts to deliver these services to the doorsteps of the poor so they can manage life’s risks and take advantage of life’s opportunities.”
Media contacts:

Alliance for Financial Inclusion
Alyson Slater
+66 84 700 7259

About AFI
The Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) is a global network of central banks and other policymaking bodies in over 60 developing countries. AFI provides its members with a learning platform for peer to peer knowledge exchange on financial inclusion policies that work, and grants to help implement them.

More News


Sub-Saharan policymakers meet to share knowledge on financial inclusion

Senior policymakers and regulators from the Southern African Development Cooperation (SADC) region have met to share knowledge and experiences in financial inclusion policies.

The workshop, which was organized by FinMark Trust and sponsored by AFI, took place in Johannesburg on 27 August 2009. Delegates learned from each other’s experiences by sharing country strategies and on-going initiatives to promote financial inclusion. Discussions were also held on obstacles to broaden access to financial services and on which institution should have overall responsibility for promoting financial inclusion. The workshop concluded with some reflections on what AFI can do to assist the participating institutions to meet their financial inclusion objectives.


Website for the 2009 AFI Global Policy Forum launched

Are you going to the AFI Global Policy Forum this September? We have put together a new page where you can view the agenda, get to know the venue, and find travel information and other details. Take a look! >


Sub-Saharan knowledge-sharing

Senior policymakers and regulators from eight sub-Saharan African countries, each undergoing significant policy reforms, will be sharing their knowledge and experiences of financial inclusion policies and products at a workshop in South Africa on 27 August 2009.

Some of the “hot” issues that will be discussed include microinsurance, branchless banking/e-money, anti-money laundering (AML) and credit market regulation, and social security reform. The eight countries include Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland and Zambia. The workshop will be funded by AFI and organized by the not-for-profit organization FinMark Trust (FMT).

A new strategy for measuring financial access


AFI is funding the development of a strategic plan for measuring and monitoring access to financial services in Mexico that could be applied in other countries.

The proposal for the strategy, submitted by the National Banking and Securities Commission (CNBV) in Mexico, involves analyzing existing information to establish a reliable baseline, defining necessary measures and assessing priorities against available resources. Information gaps will also be identified and filled, and a coherent analysis of trends assembled. Once the strategic plan has been developed, CNBV will collect, analyze and present information on a regular basis, preferably with annual monitoring reports.

Countries wishing to promote financial inclusion need to develop an active strategy to monitor and measure financial access over time. This requires establishing an accurate baseline and subsequent monitoring of how the situation evolves in response to policy measures or changing economic conditions. As such data and monitoring are crucial for developing effective policies for increasing financial access, other countries could also learn from the Mexican approach and apply a similar methodology.

CNBV is Mexico’s main financial regulatory agency and one of few financial authorities in the world to set up a special unit to promote financial inclusion. It proposes regulation that is conducive to developing new financial products and services, including regulations to promote the use of retailers as banking agents and a legal framework for providing mobile financial services.

Membership climbs to 62 countries

Fiji, Samoa and Tuvalu are the latest countries to agree to join AFI, bringing the total number of member countries up to 62. Together the 62 countries account for nearly 70% of the world’s “unbanked”.

Central bankers and other senior policy makers from the following countries have either become members of AFI or agreed to join:

Africa Asia Latin America Middle East and North Africa
Burkina Faso
Côte d’Ivoire
DR Congo
Sierra Leone
South Africa
Zambia Afganistan
Papua New Guinea
Sri Lanka