The Philippines officially opened the 2015 Asia-Pacific Forum on Financial Inclusion on Tuesday, the first of several meetings seeking to expand access to finance for low-income households and small businesses across the region.
The forum themed, “Developing the Lending Infrastructure for Financial Inclusion,” will push the progress made by the recent Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Finance Ministers’ Process (FMP).
Consistent with the overall theme of the Philippines’ hosting of the APEC meetings this year, “Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World,” the forum will discuss legal, policy, and regulatory frameworks to expand access to finance for the poor and small enterprises.
“We come together representing different economies with one shared goal: expanding financial inclusion to reach the most vulnerable low income households and small enterprises. We will learn from each other, from each of our differences,” Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran said in his opening remarks.
Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima welcomed the opening of the forum saying, “I look forward to the outcome of this collaborative process among all the APEC member economies. Our hard work on financial inclusion is based on the simple idea that the more people we enable to freely participate in our economies, the better off we will be. We have a better fighting chance against poverty when those at the furthest margins of our economies have more access to finance.”
Key topics to be discussed are improving customer centricity and risk management in digital finance, as well as addressing the asymmetric information problem in financial inclusion with credit information systems. More importantly, the forum will examine how financial inclusion can further accelerate the growth of small businesses and enterprises with more access to credit. Together with the private sector and the multilateral organizations, APEC member economies will explore the possibility of a pathfinder initiative to support the acceleration of reforms in participating economies where reforms have been introduced.
“We will leverage 21st century tools to solve problems we long should have left in the past century. A globalized world makes it easier than ever to build financially inclusive economies: today, we work towards a world where households and small businesses are empowered with the access to credit and finance they need to advance,” Beltran added.
The forum will conclude with reports on the outcomes of the various sessions and agreement among participants to progress initiatives and proposals to the APEC Finance Ministers. A report of the Forum will be drafted, reviewed by participants, published and made available both online and in hard copy to a wide variety of relevant audiences, including APEC Leaders, finance and other ministers, senior finance and other officials, regulators, experts in international and academic organizations, and industry and opinion leaders.
Participants in this forum will include experts from international organizations, capacity-building agencies, leading representatives from the banking, consumer finance, microfinance, credit bureaus and credit reference centers, and legal experts. Valuable contributions are expected from experts in the Asia Pacific Financial Forum (APFF) Lending Infrastructure and Trade and Supply Chain Finance Work Streams.
The forum is being held March 3 and 4 at the Taal Vista Lodge in Tagaytay City.