> Posted by Center Staff

Consumers International doesn’t mince words.

Since the global financial crisis, according to CI, the world has been mired in an “ongoing crisis in financial consumer protection.” This crisis creates a “myriad of problems for consumers around the world,” says CI, a world federation that constitutes the “only independent and authoritative global voice for consumers.”

Consumers International is a federation of consumer groups that up to now has focused mainly on physical products like safe car seats and reliable appliances. It is significant that this year CI is, for the first time, taking up financial services.

Which brings us to today. March 15 is World Consumer Rights Day, and CI has selected financial services as its focus, in keeping with its Consumers for Fair Financial Services campaign. It is urging the G20 to adopt its recommendations on consumer protection in financial services.  This campaign will also be highlighted at CI’s annual forum, to take place in May in Hong Kong. Consumers International largely represents consumers from higher-income countries, and that makes the G20’s financial inclusion effort a relevant focus. 

Here at the Center, we’re glad CI is taking up this issue, even though our focus is on the poor in lower-income countries. We see the fortunes (and follies) of microfinance and other financial service providers to the poor as enmeshed with those of the global financial system — and vice versa. CI’s World Consumer Rights Day theme for 2011 resonates strongly with the Smart Campaign, the primary vehicle by which MFIs worldwide are moving to incorporate Client Protection Principles into the industry’s DNA.

We look forward to working with CI to make sure that the global client protection movement meets the needs not just of credit card users in the US and Europe, but also of low-income people in lower-income countries.

Hence our excitement about this year’s World Consumer Rights Day, which we hope you’ll share.