The World Bank has lauded the Philippine’s approach to financial inclusion as it noted that the country’s National Strategy for Financial Inclusion (NSFI) has a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system.
National financial inclusion targets, better data availability, and transformative business models to provide financial services, the multilateral lender said in a blog, are helping to accelerate financial inclusion across the globe and in Asia – where more than a billion of unbanked people live.
It said countries set national financial inclusion goals to increase the pace and impact of reforms. For this to be effective, it’s critical to have in place a robust M&E system to track progress, identify obstacles, and demonstrate success.
However, it is often difficult to evaluate and track the extent and quality of the national financial inclusion strategy implementation, and to aggregate the results of multiple actions at the national level the World Bank pointed out.
Nevertheless, the Philippines, it said, “has adopted a fresh approach to this challenge by designing a comprehensive M&E system that will report on headline and national-level indicators, as well as track progress of the regional and program-level performance indicators.”
Launched in July last year, the NSFI envisions a financial system that is accessible and responsive to the financial needs of all Filipinos, and provides a well- coordinated framework for public private coordination and cooperation as well as harmonization of efforts in financial inclusion.
“The Philippines has pioneered a unique approach to gather relevant data on activities, inputs and indicators to enable collaborative reporting by the various implementing agencies [of the NSFI],” the lender stated.
Between 2011 and 2014, it noted that the Philippines improved access to bank accounts by 4 percentage points, resulting in some 2.7 million adults gaining access to formal financial services.
Through NSFI working groups, the World Bank noted, the BSP devised reporting templates for each implementing agency. It then used consolidated inputs on activities the agencies developed and indicators they selected to develop the M&E system.
These inputs include performance-level activities and indicators that agencies can regularly report, and can be used to monitor national progress, as well as the granular activity-level progress on implementation, it said.
“This approach ensures that each agency has ownership and accountability of its commitments to implement NFIS activities and report indicators,” it added.
As a result, the lender said agencies are not expected to implement activities or report indicators that are out of their control, are difficult to manage or require additional funding.
“This collaborative and consultative approach has allowed the Philippines to develop an M&E system to easily collect inputs for NSFI,” it said.
NSFI, the World Bank noted, has also helped the country avoid many potential issues such as gaps in data, a lack of ownership or accountability of specific NSFI actions, or challenges in tracking activity-level implementation.
The NSFI secretariat can clearly map activities, progress and indicators of each implementing agency and act pro-actively where needed, it noted.
“This approach creates a solid and practical foundation for the successful implementation of NSFI activities and a comprehensive evaluation system that monitors the performance, implementation and national progress of the NSFI,” it said.
Lastly, the World Bank said the unprecedented level of collaboration for NSFI implementation is a good sign for future progress on improving financial inclusion in the Philippines.