H.M. Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, United Nation’s Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA), virtually convened her Reference Group of financial inclusion advisors today.
The meeting was an opportunity for the Special Advocate to discuss a range of issues—including the ongoing role of inclusive finance in COVID-19 response and recovery efforts—with these advisory leaders representing a variety of development institutions, international financial institutions, and donors focused on financial inclusion.
The Special Advocate updated them on some of her key engagements since the Reference Group’s previous formal meeting online last October. This included developments around the UNSGSA’s outreach with financial standard-setting bodies (SSBs), the G20, the Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI), and other global events.
The UNSGSA also passed along key insights from her advocacy at regional and country levels, including with the African Union, the Banque Centrale des Etats de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (BCEAO), Mexico, Pakistan and Senegal.
Queen Máxima underscored the potential of digital financial services (DFS) to provide meaningful and quality financial services to underserved segments, as well as to help meet development objectives. And she emphasized the role of DFS to contribute to pandemic response and recovery efforts. This could be critical for the poor, women, smallholder farmers, and micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs)—marginalized groups which have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
The Special Advocate also stressed that while it has been a positive development digitization accelerated over the course of the last year, stakeholders should ensure that it is a means to an end—rather than digitization as an end itself. It is vital to consider who stakeholders are doing this for, and be mindful of risks associated with technology-enabled innovations, said Queen Máxima.
Further, the UNSGSA expressed to her advisors that it is paramount to engage with the private sector, which is needed to innovate and design products tailored to underserved customers that enable users to improve their financial health and resiliency.
Members of the Reference Group also shared updates on the work being accomplished at their respective organizations over the last six months. Special emphasis was placed on highlighting complementary goals and initiatives where the UNSGSA, along with her office, could engage with them to support one another’s work.