Regulators and industry focus on digital banking in developing countries


Around the world, some 1.7 billion adults have never had a bank account. But 1.1 billion of them have a mobile phone.

Innovation to expand digital financial inclusion in developing countries will be in focus at the 2021 symposium of the Financial Inclusion Global Initiative (FIGI), taking place online from 18 May to 24 June. Participation is free of charge and open to all.


The Financial Inclusion Global Ini​tiative (FIGI) supports national policy reforms to stimulate financial inclusion and leads research to build trust in digital financial services.
Symposium topics include financial technology (fintech) for inclusion, gender equity, consumer protection, cybersecurity and trust, digital identity, payment acceptance, and experiences reaching underserved and vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Participants will also share insights on the achievements and ambitions of the FIGI community, and the symposium would welcome your views on financial inclusion priorities beyond 2021.
WHAT: FIGI Symposium 2021 – advancing digital banking access for the world’s unbanked.
WHEN: 18 May to 24 June 2021.
WHERE​: Online.
WHY: A meeting of the information and communication technology (ICT) and financial services sectors to identify and review the latest innovations in digital financial services and related policy and regulatory reform, sharing knowledge and expertise to expand financial inclusion.
WHO: Policymakers, ICT regulators, central banks, mobile network operators, digital financial service providers, payment system organizations, standards bodies, international organizations, and the fintech community.
The opening ceremony will feature a pre-recorded keynote address from H.M. Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA).
Confirmed speakers include:
    • Mahesh Uttamchandani, Global Manager Financial Inclusion & Infrastructure, Finance, Competitiveness, and Innovation Global Practice, World Bank Group
    • Magda Bianco, Managing Director, Bank of Italy
    • Gregory Chen, Policy Lead, Consultative Group to Assist the Poor
    • Emran Islam, Senior Financial Sector Expert, Monetary and Capital Markets,
    • International Monetary Fund
    • Tan Yeow Seng, Executive Director, Monetary Authority of Singapore
    • May Abulnaga, First Sub-Governor, Technical Office of the Governor,
    • Central Bank of Egypt
    • Kendrick Lee, Director, National Digital Identity, Government Technology Agency of Singapore
    • Jonathan Hakim, CEO, Cignifi
    • Kevin Butler, Associate Professor, University of Florida
    • Hisham El-Bihbety, Chief Information Security Officer, Bank of Canada
    • Abbie Barbir, Senior Security Advisor, CVS Health
    • Rory Macmillan, Partner, Macmillan Keck Attorneys & Solicitors
    • Alexandra Rizzi, Senior Research Director, Accion
    • Debora Comparin, Chair, Open Standards Identity APIs Initiative
    • Simeon Coney, Chief Strategy Officer, Adaptive Mobile Security
    • Eve Araduha, Senior Manager IT Client Relations & Delivery, MTN
    • Jami Solli, Commercial Litigation Lawyer, Global Alliance for Legal Aid
About FIGI: 3 countries, 3 working groups, 3 symposia
FIGI is an open framework for collaboration led by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the World Bank Group, and the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures (CPMI), with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
An operational work stream supports policy innovation in China, Egypt and Mexico, providing valuable case studies for other countries around the world.
A knowledge work stream, enacted by three working groups, advances research in key areas of digital finance:
  1. The relationship between digital identity and financial inclusion;
  2. Electronic payment acceptance by merchants and their customers;
  3. Security and trust in digital financial services.
Findings and reports are available on the FIGI resources webpage. FIGI symposia showcase national experiences in promoting financial inclusion and share the latest findings of FIGI’s working groups.
The upcoming 2021 online FIGI symposium follows 2017 and 2019 FIGI symposia in Bangalore, India, and Cairo, Egypt.​
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