Patrice Kiiru, General Manager, Diaspora Banking & International Money Transfer, Equity Bank Group
Md Shafiqur Rahman, Director General, Special Security Force, Government of Bangladesh
Jaspreet Singh, Regional Technical Specialist for Digital Financial Services, United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF)
Prasun Kumar Das, Secretary General, Asia-Pacific Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (APRACA)
Michael Hamp, Lead Technical Specialist – Inclusive Rural Financial Services, IFAD There are three main players in the value chain mechanism: the service provider, the regulator, and the end user. It will require good communication and collaboration among all three to improve the remittance market.
The panel discussed several promising avenues for creating private-public-people partnerships:
Make direct contact with people. The Migrant Family Motivation Initiative (MFMI) is a pilot project operating in 4 rural areas in Bangladesh that identifies and collects information on migrant families. Officials meet with the families both individually and in mass meetings where they share information, educate migrants on their financial options, and often solve specific problems directly. These sessions help families, women in particular, develop skills and financial literacy for starting small agri-businesses.
Appeal the public sector to recognize contribution of migrant remittances. Many central banks collect data on remittances, but do nothing to promote their impact. Regulations can differ significantly from country to country, and sometimes even within countries. Some countries discourage foreign investment, while others have legislation that makes it difficult for migrant families to start businesses or own property. Equity Bank Group (EBG) meets with regulators on a regular basis to discuss how remittances can be directed toward private and public investment. Along with other banking associations, EBG appeals to central banks and regulators, encouraging them to make the regulatory environment more inviting to foreign and domestic remittances.
Build a supportive eco-system. Using technology to lower costs is important, but it is just as critical to understand the true needs of the end user, otherwise companies are simply replacing one financial process for another. Central Bank of Pakistan used digital applications to improve service. The app assists customers by answering questions on sending money home, linking to other products, and addressing customer complaints by connecting them to officials who could assist with the problem. Customers who sent more remittances gained special privileges, such as buying into voluntary pension products. Likewise, FSPs were encouraged to develop supporting products.
The following steps were suggested in order to facilitate development of private-public-people partnerships that lead to greater financial inclusion:
1. Encourage discussion among the many players in the remittance space. Public sector should communicate with the private sector in order to fashion appropriate regulations that promote security without stifling innovation. In turn, the private sector should listen to the needs of the end client to develop appropriate products that meet the day-to-day needs of migrants.
2. Public sector can create incentives for the private sector to reach out to underserved communities, make it easier to use services, and create products crafted to migrant family needs.
3. Private sector can create incentives for users to move beyond remittances. Through remittance-linked products and services, migrant families can be drawn into the formal financial market.