FinMark Trust is supporting the development of capacity within financial regulators to better serve access expansion in the region.
The policy and regulation theme area cuts across all of FinMark Trust’s work, supporting policymakers and regulators and encouraging an explicit focus on financial inclusion, as well as identifying ways to unlock the supply of financial services. Two main areas were identified for advocacy: promoting financial inclusion policies by governments, and conducting supply-side studies to identify constraints on the supply of financial services, which in turn could assist governments with policy formulation and policy responses. FinMark Trust remains committed to helping guide and support improvements in policy and regulation with a view to enhancing financial inclusion on global, regional and local platforms. In this regard FinMark Trust through its work is pleased that it is able to continue supporting policy makers and regulators in focusing on financial inclusion and identifying ways to unlock the supply of financial services. FinMark Trust continues to contribute to the debate on the G20 financial inclusion working groups and the Alliance for Financial Inclusion, among others.
Globally financial inclusion is a key focus for policy makers and regulators given the increasing evidence of its role in promoting economic growth and reducing poverty and inequality. The Maya Declaration, the G20 and its Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion and the Alliance for Financial Inclusion all recognise the importance of financial inclusion strategies in promoting financial stability and mitigating systemic risk which can enhance resilience and stability of the real economy.
FinMark Trust continues to support the development of policies and regulations that support the financial inclusion agenda in SADC. Policy and regulation is pervasive and at the forefront across all theme areas of FinMark Trust. It is a core function of what we do in the effort to create financial markets that work for the poor.
In addition to embedding policy and regulatory work across the themes, FinMark also conducts stand-alone research on issues that impact the financial inclusion agenda. One specific piece of research undertaken during the period under review is an ‘Investigation of the Scope for the Harmonisation of Legislation and Regulation on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism in various Southern African Development Community (SADC) Countries’. During the research a review of existing AML laws was undertaken to investigate the extent to which the AML/CFT regulations of the SADC countries could be harmonised and calibrated in order to increase financial integration and access to financial services within the region. The study took into account the FATF Standards, the ESAAMLG reports and research, the FATF Guidance note on financial inclusion as well as the FATF recommendations regarding risk-based regulation. Given the magnitude of the research and the need for stakeholder engagement and national consultations, it is expected that the study will be finalised in 2014 with some specific recommendations that can be taken on board by SADC on the harmonisation of legislation on AML/CFT.
Another study undertaken is on the legal and regulatory framework for payments in the SADC countries. As the SADC region moves towards deeper integration, there is a need for institutional and infrastructural support to backstop the accompanying enhanced economic and financial activities within a harmonised legal and regulatory framework. The study which covers all the SADC countries, aims at establishing the institutional and organisational structures for the establishment of an integrated payments market. Its findings have been presented to the CCBG Payments System sub-committee and further work towards the development of a model law will be undertaken to facilitate the establishment of the integrated payments market in SADC.
In addition to specific studies, Finmark Trust has also contributed to key policy discussions in a number of SADC countries. In Lesotho, we have been actively involved in the development of the national strategy for Financial Inclusion in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and Central Bank of Lesotho. In Swaziland, following the development of the Consumer Credit Bill in 2012, we continue to provide technical support to the Ministry of Finance and Financial Services Regulatory Authority for the development of an appropriate legal framework to support consumer protection and financial inclusion. In South Africa, the work undertaken on Consumer Credit Insurance (CCI) and the support provided in the finalisation of the National Treasury/Financial Services Board discussion paper have contributed to the finalisation of the discussions on the CCI market at the National Treasury and the design of an appropriate regulatory framework to ensure that the lower income groups are not marginalised and are afforded adequate protection. In addition, the Cooperatives Bank Development Agency (CBDA) in South Africa has worked closely with FinMark Trust to better understand Cooperative Financial Institutions in to inform policy decisions.