Accion and the Center for Financial Inclusion Launch FI2020 Progress Report

Why Fintech Matters

New Report Identifies Key Trends, Raises Important Questions and Serves as Call to Action to Advance Worldwide Financial Inclusion

NEW YORKOct. 1, 2015 -- While financial inclusion efforts have made great strides in promoting access to financial services for low-income people – 700 million new accounts were created between 2011 and 2014 – we are still far from a financially inclusive world.  So says the Financial Inclusion 2020 (FI2020) Progress Report, released today by Accion and its action-oriented think tank, the Center for Financial Inclusion (CFI), with funding support from the Citi Foundation. The report identifies key trends, raises important questions, and serves as a call to action to advance worldwide financial inclusion. 

"The FI2020 Progress Report is a thorough, provocative, and forward-looking series of recommendations that clearly articulate what we can do to help more people at the base of the pyramid access, use and benefit from formal financial services," said Michael Schlein, CEO and President, Accion.

"Regulators, financial service providers, mobile network operators and NGOs must re-commit themselves to a vision of meaningful financial inclusion and design products that materially improve their users' lives," Schlein continued. "We are still a long way from realizing our vision of a financially inclusive world. But by reading the FI2020 Progress Report and understanding its recommendations on prioritizing client protection, financial capability, credit reporting and data analytics, and other factors related to meeting customer needs, we can take significant strides toward that goal – and help billions of people." 

The FI2020 Progress Report explains that, despite expanding access, account usage is stagnant, if not declining, and thus far efforts to address this important gap have not been commensurate with the challenge.

The FI2020 Progress Report makes recommendations on how to address those endemic challenges and advance financial inclusion, paying particular attention to digital financial services. The report presents the CFI's assessment of progress through the lens of five priority areas shaping the future of inclusion:  addressing customer needs, client protection, credit reporting and data analytics, financial capability, and technology.  After assessing these factors, the Progress Report makes recommendations about how to ensure that, as access to formal financial services expands, customers also receive quality and value, such as focusing on different customer segments and their needs when designing products; integrating alternative data into credit reporting to help 'thin-file' customers access credit; promoting consumer financial capability and positive financial behaviors; and addressing the new consumer protection issues that emerge with digital financial services.

Through the interactive Progress Report web site, www.fi2020progressreport.org, readers are also invited to rank the world's progress on those areas and compare their scores to the CFI's rankings.  "Relying on extensive research and interviews with experts, the CFI has determined a score for each of the five key areas that contribute to meaningful financial inclusion, said Elisabeth Rhyne, Managing Director, CFI.  "We invite other financial inclusion leaders to cast their own votes and tell us where the world has made progress and where we need to redouble our efforts."

Around the world, two billion people live in poverty and struggle without access to basic financial services such as savings, insurance, pensions, or credit. Launched in 2011, the CFI's FI2020 initiative aims to foster financial inclusion by using the year 2020 as a focal point to galvanize action and mobilize stakeholders around the world to work to provide everyone with the quality financial services and products they need to build better lives. FI2020 is guided by a Steering Committee made up of global leaders in financial inclusion, including Citi as lead sponsor, CGAP, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, MasterCard Worldwide, MetLife Foundation and Visa; Credit Suisse serves as the Founding Partner for the CFI.

Accion and the CFI will present the FI2020 Progress Report and its findings today during an event hosted by the Citi Foundation at the Cornell Club in Manhattan. During the event, a panel of experts from Accion, Citi, MasterCard, Visa, and the Center for Financial Inclusion will discuss the future of financial inclusion and how digital financial services can reach millions of underserved people around the world. 

Accion will also present the inaugural Edward W. Claugus Award, which recognizes financial inclusion leaders who have made important contributions to the movement, to Dr. Daniel Schydlowsky, Superintendent of Banking, Insurance and Private Pension Fund Administrators, Peru. Dr. Schydlowsky will receive the award in recognition of his exceptional work in developing a competitive, flourishing, and innovative financial inclusion sector that promotes quality products and ensures client protection. Through Dr. Schydlowsky's leadership, Peru has come to exemplify the progress and conditions necessary for meaningful financial inclusion. Through his position as Chair of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion – a global peer-learning network of 124 policymaking and regulatory institutions – Dr. Schydlowsky works with developing and emerging countries to create and refine effective financial inclusion policy.

About Accion

Accion is a global nonprofit dedicated to building a financially inclusive world with economic opportunity for all, by giving people the financial tools they need to improve their lives.  We are building the next generation of top-tier microfinance institutions, and for over 50 years have helped build 64 such institutions in 32 countries on four continents that today reach millions of clients. Our impact investing initiatives are pushing beyond microfinance to catalyze more than 20 innovative start-ups dedicated to improving the efficiency, reach and scope of financial services for the poor.  And our Center for Financial Inclusion is helping to build a stronger industry with high standards and broad engagement. Currently, our work spans nearly two dozen countries, including the U.S., where we are the nation's largest nonprofit microfinance network. For further information, visit www.accion.org.

About The Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion

The Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion (CFI) is an action-oriented think tank working toward full global financial inclusion. Constructing a financial inclusion sector that reaches everyone with quality services will require the combined efforts of many actors.  CFI contributes to full inclusion by collaborating with sector participants to tackle challenges beyond the scope of any one actor, using tools that include research, convening, capacity building, and communications. To learn more about CFI, visitwww.centerforfinancialinclusion.org.

About the Citi Foundation

The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. We invest in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyze job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant cities. The Citi Foundation's "More than Philanthropy" approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfill our mission and drive thought leadership and innovation. For more information, visit www.citifoundation.com.