insight2impact Researcher Damola Owolade had an opportunity recently to present our Measurement Frameworks to participants attending the Financial Inclusion Strategy and Data training course organised by Bank Negara Malaysia and Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI).

The week-long training, which took place from 7-11 August 2017 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, gathered 31 participants from 28 AFI member institutions. 

The training aimed to provide an overview on recent developments and emerging issues in financial inclusion strategy and data. It was designed to show how using financial inclusion data for diagnosis, strategy formulation, implementation and regulatory impact assessment leads towards evidence-based financial inclusion policy making. 

Damola presented during the session on “A Client-Centric Approach to Demand-Side Data” and spoke about i2i’s approach that ideally demand-side surveys should attempt to measure not only uptake of financial services but also the associated financial needs and ultimately the usage of financial products and services.  

During the training, officials from 27 countries learnt to apply appropriate methodology in formulating and implementing financial inclusion strategies and action plans. Participants are also being trained on how to develop appropriate strategies to facilitate multi-stakeholder coordination and collaboration.

Kristina Rai welcomed the participants and explained that for BNM, strategy is not enough. “Working together with other policymakers throughout the world, and those stakeholders who support such initiatives like AFI for example, will also ensure that more and more are able to enjoy privileges of good policy making,” she said. Kristina emphasised that financial inclusion should be extended to women and those defragmented from financial services such are foreign workers, the disabled, young and forcibly displaced. 

She highlighted the importance of data as it offers insights into decisions that are made at the basic levels. “Data that talks about financial inclusion helps us reveal the key issues and helps better policy planning. It must be looked at through a different lens to show why people are excluded.”  

AFI Deputy Executive Director, Norbert Mumba highlighted that the National Financial Inclusion Strategies (NFIS) should address the national financial inclusion gaps and recognise the inadequacies of current financial services offerings, particularly in underserved groups such as women, youth and forcibly displaced persons.

“When carefully formulated, implemented and monitored, based on sound data, NFIS ensures the systematic coordination of financial inclusion policies that are tailored to a country’s particular context. Good dataset informs effective policy development and aids product and services design,” he said.

Integrating women’s financial inclusion into national strategies is one of AFI’s key focus areas with the guideline on this topic published earlier this year. As part of efforts to promote a gender-sensitive approach in the advancement of financial inclusion, AFI is now integrating sessions dedicated to women’s financial inclusion within its capacity building programmes.

“AFI recognises that women are disproportionately excluded from the formal financial system.  Consequently, members made a commitment to close the gender gap in financial inclusion by adopting the Denarau Action Plan at the AFI Global Policy Forum held in Nadi, Fiji, last year. The goal is to have a transformative impact on the lives of previously financially excluded women, as well as enhance the quality and usage of financial services for those already included but still facing gender-specific barriers in their delivery,” Norbert emphasized. 

About National Financial Inclusion Strategies (NFIS)

Countries with national strategies make faster and more meaningful progress in financial inclusion than those without them. National Financial Inclusion Strategies (NFIS) provide a framework for countries to implement their Maya Declaration commitments and ensure the systematic coordination of financial inclusion policies. Tailored to a country’s context, the NFIS offer a framework to guide important processes involved in the implementation of such policies. Good dataset informs effective policy development and aids product and services design. Effective NFIS should include a sound data gathering framework, as well as a monitoring and evaluation framework that is based on solid data.

AFI’s Financial Inclusion Strategy Peer Learning Group (FISPLG), which serves as a platform that promotes and facilitates the development and implementation of national financial inclusion strategies among AFI members, developed a National Financial Inclusion Strategies Toolkit specifically for policymakers and regulators, to give them step by step guidance on formulation of their national financial inclusion strategies.