In many developing countries, lack of access to financial services as well as high transaction costs often pose significant challenges to people living in poverty.
With the international community set to define a post-2015 development framework for sustainable development, financial inclusion has become an important issue on the international policy agenda as it has the potential to contribute to poverty reduction, economic and social development and financial stability.
Many factors are at the source of lack of access to financial services - physical, economic, regulatory and cultural. The poor, women, youth, rural population and those engaged in the informal economy are particularly severely affected. The use of new technology and innovative business models that help overcome barriers to access could contribute to improved inclusion.
As highlighted by major international summits and platforms, such as the United Nations High-level Dialogue on Migration and Development, remittances could be turned into a promising source of demand for financial services and contribute significantly to financial inclusion. This will require reducing the transaction costs of remittance transfers so as to ensure facilitated, safer and speedier transfers, including through the development of new financial products.
Governments have an important role in implementing well-designed comprehensive policies. These include setting up sound regulatory frameworks and providing incentives for extending supply and affordability of services, as well as creating an expanded demand for financial services, such as through financial education and consumer empowerment.
Format of the meeting:
The expert meeting will build on the discussions undertaken and the recommendations made during previous expert meetings, including the Expert Meeting on Maximizing the Development Impact of Remittances and the Expert Meeting on Trade and Development Implications of Financial Services and Commodity Exchanges.
The meeting will discuss the impact of financial access on small and medium-sized enterprises, microenterprises and individuals, particularly women and youth, and the means of improving access to financial services and reducing their transaction costs, including making remittances faster, safer and more secure, and maximizing their development impact.
In this regard, the discussion will focus on policies and regulations that support financial inclusion through new technologies, such as mobile money schemes, on policy reforms that may ease the cost and complexity of access to financial services and on trade and competition policy options in financial and telecommunications services to improve financial access.
Identify national policies and practices that support improved financial access for the unbanked, particularly women and youth, with a focus on measures to record remittances through formal channels and improve data on these inflows.
Provide a platform for public-private sector dialogue and cooperation on increasing access to financial services including remittances.
Identify areas for further work by UNCTAD.
These objectives will be pursued through an exchange of experiences and lessons learned so as to assist member States, in particular developing economies.
Input from experts
Experts nominated by member States are encouraged to submit brief papers or case studies (approximately 5–12 pages) as contributions to the work of the meeting.
The papers will be made available at the meeting in the form and language in which they are received. They should be submitted to the UNCTAD secretariat in advance of the meeting and addressed to Ms. Mina Mashayekhi and Mr. Aurangzeb Butt, Palais des Nations, CH-1211, Geneva, Switzerland; fax: +41 22 917 0044; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.