Ahead of the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference 2018 (PP-18) – the top policy-making body of the International Telecommunication Union, taking place from 29 October to 16 November in Dubai – ITU News is highlighting some important and emerging areas of ITU’s work. The following is an ITU Plenipotentiary Backgrounder, the original can be found on the PP-18 website here.
Developing countries are capitalizing on the widespread use of mobile phones to bring all people within reach of life-changing financial services and out of poverty. This requires data confidentiality, reliable means to verify people’s identity, security from hackers and fraudsters and solutions to make electronic payments attractive to small merchants and their customers.
Efforts towards digital financial inclusion ensure that financial services are accessible to all, interoperable between different service providers, and consistently available and secure, protecting users’ digital identities and data and giving them the assurance that their money and identities are safe.
Endeavours to alleviate global poverty cannot solely promote access to digital financial services. Users must have adequate financial and digital literacy if the lives of the 1.7 billion unbanked are to be improved.
The ITU Focus Group on Digital Financial Services issued 85 policy recommendations for digital financial services and 28 supporting thematic reports. With more than 60 organizations from more than 30 countries, the Focus Group was the first initiative to bring together all the actors, including ICT regulators and representatives from central banks, working in the interests of financial inclusion.
Led by ITU, the World Bank Group and the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures, and with financial support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the ‘Financial Inclusion Global Initiative’ (FIGI) is a three-year programme of collective action to advance research in digital finance and accelerate digital financial inclusion in developing countries.
FIGI will enable national authorities in developing countries and emerging markets to use ICTs to extend the reach of the financial system, while managing related risks. FIGI is enacting the above-mentioned 85 ITU policy recommendations for digital financial services. FIGI’s operational work stream provides technical assistance to China, Egypt and Mexico to support their efforts to create policy environments capable of stimulating digital financial inclusion.
FIGI’s knowledge work stream—led by three Working Groups—advances research in three fields of critical importance to digital financial inclusion: Digital payment acceptance by merchants and their customers; The relationship between reliable identification systems and financial inclusion; and, security of, and trust in, digital financial services.
Below are just a few examples showing how governments and the private sector are increasing financial digital inclusion:
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