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Press release: ITU Publishes Policy...

ITU Publishes Policy Recommendations on Digital Financial Services

Two-year consultation programme concludes with publication of 85 policy recommendations. New global initiative to be launched in April 2017.

Geneva, 09 March 2017

After two years of extensive consultation, the ITU Focus Group on Digital Financial Services (DFS) has concluded its work with the publication of 85 policy recommendations and 28 supporting thematic reports. The Focus Group brought together more than 60 organizations from over 30 countries to drive greater financial inclusion for the estimated 2 billion people around the world who remain unbanked.

Commenting on the success of the Focus Group, ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao said: "Governments around the world face many similar challenges in their efforts to deliver fully integrated digital financial services.  Until now solutions have largely been developed in isolation. This is the first time an organization has sought to develop a comprehensive set of practical and integrated guidelines drawing on expertise from across the financial service and telecommunication/ICT sectors."

He adds: "By reviewing and assessing international best practices we have developed a practical toolkit that can be adapted to local needs. We hope it will help drive greater access and opportunity through the delivery of more affordable, accessible, secure, transparent and robust digital financial services for consumers and merchants in emerging markets."

The 85 policy recommendations offer guidance in areas such as digital liquidity, consumer protection to enhance DFS usage, data privacy, digital identity and e-KYC (Know Your Customer), as well as interoperability and fair access to the communication channel. Some of its core suggestions include:

    Sacha Polverini, Chairman of the Focus Group, said: "While the work of the Focus Group is complete, we now need to move from theory to implementation. The work we have done has resulted in a set of very operational policy recommendations. Their value will be dependent on their systematic application in markets that need guidance and support. We are now reviewing the opportunity to progress a new global initiative which we hope to announce in April 2017".

    ITU and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are organizing a Workshop on Digital Financial Services and Financial Inclusion in Washington DC, US, 19 April 2017, hosted by the World Bank. The workshop will highlight the key findings of the Focus Group and provide an overview of future initiatives and events to support the implementation of the recommendations issued by the Focus Group.

     Notes to the Editor

    In 2014, ITU established a dedicated Focus Group incorporating 60 organizations from some 30 countries. The Focus Group's four thematic working groups covered: DFS ecosystem; Technology, Innovation and Competition; Interoperability; and Consumer Experience & Protection.

    The group's goal was 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.

    17 of the position papers were published in December 2016.  The remaining eleven are now available online.