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Managing the regulatory environment and consumer protection -
latest reports from ITU Focus Group on Digital Financial Services

Further clarification to help drive development of international framework for regulators, operators and providers in the telecom and financial services sectors

Geneva, 12 July 2016 - The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Focus Group on Digital Financial Services has published two further reports as it seeks to develop an international framework of good practice guidelines for regulators, operators and providers in the telecom and financial services sectors. In addition to the four research papers published last month it has now released two new reports: one on regulation in the DFS ecosystem and another on consumer protection.

ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao said: “Regulation must nurture the development of a strong and healthy digital finance sector. Given the complexity of the regulatory environment, it can often be a challenge for telecom and financial services regulatory bodies in many emerging markets to collaborate in developing national guidelines. For the first time the Focus Group has sought to identify a clear framework that regulators around the world can use. I believe also that the work being done will contribute significantly towards reducing global poverty, helping therefore to achieve the first Sustainable Development Goal”

The Focus Group Paper Regulation in the Digital Financial Services Ecosystem’ identifies categories of regulation and addresses a number of issues relating to managing the regulatory environment. It includes an analysis of how regulators currently work together and provides a model memorandum of understanding that national regulators can adopt to formalise their collaboration and interaction in view of co-regulating the DFS marketplace.

Director of the ITU’s Standardization Bureau, Chaesub Lee stated that “Both telecom and financial services regulators have a crucial role to play in rolling out digital financial services that are accessible to everyone around the world. Collaboration between the telecom and financial services regulators can therefore ensure a conducive regulatory environment for digital financial services to flourish.”

Sacha Polverini, Chairman of the Focus Group and Senior Programme Officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Financial Services for the Poor programme, said: “Trust is an essential ingredient for digital financial services to succeed. The move away from cash will only work if the solutions and processes being put in place to replace it are reliable, trustable and easy to use. This is why consumer protection is an essential part of the work we have been doing.”

Consequently the Focus Group Paper Commonly identified Consumer Protection themes for Digital Financial Services’ identifies four common themes that policy makers or regulators may want to consider when developing laws, regulations or guidelines around consumer protection. This includes provision of information and transparency, fraud prevention, dispute resolution and data privacy and protection.

The Focus Group is continuing its work and will publish its next set of research papers after its upcoming meeting in September 2016 in Tanzania focussing on the work of the four Working Groups:  DFS Ecosystem, Consumer Experience & Protection, Interoperability and Technology, Innovation & Competition.

Notes to the Editor

In 2014, ITU established a dedicated Focus Group incorporating 60 organizations from some 30 countries. The Focus Group has created four thematic working groups covering the following areas: DFS ecosystem; Technology; Innovation and Competition; Interoperability and Consumer Experience & Protection. The group’s goal is to develop guidelines, principles and toolkits based on international best practices, which will be adapted and implemented by countries looking to capitalize on digital and mobile technologies in their efforts to increase access to basic financial services for people that today remain at the margin of society.

For more information or interviews with Mr Sacha Polverini, please contact:

Paul Conneally
Head, Corporate Communications Division, ITU
telephone +41 22 730 5601
mobile +41 79 592 5668
email paul.conneally@itu.int 
Marcus Pepperell
FTI Consulting
telephone +32 2 289 6905
mobile +32 4738 847 40
email Marcus.Pepperell@fticonsulting.com 


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