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> Posted by Center Staff

After months of planning, the Financial Inclusion 2020 Global Forum, October 28-30 in London, is coming into view. We’ve shared a few rounds of Forum updates here on the blog over the past weeks (see here and here), and we’re happy to report that more exciting new speakers have been confirmed, and more side sessions have cropped up. Here are the new speakers:

  • Luis Gallegos, Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the U.N. Office at Geneva
  • Bill Sheedy, Global Executive, Corporate Strategy, M&A, Government Relations and Europe, Visa, Inc.
  • Edward Effah, Managing Director, Fidelity Bank
  • Alexia Latortue, Assistant Deputy Secretary for International Development Policy, U.S. Treasury
  • Carlos Lopez Moctezuma, Global Director for Financial Inclusion, BBVA
  • Jean-Claude Masangu, Former Governor, Banque Centrale du Congo
  • Bindu Ananth, President, IMFR Trust
  • Nachiket Mor, Chair, Reserve Bank of India Committee on Comprehensive Financial Services for Small Businesses and Low-Income Households
  • Tony Goland, Director, McKinsey & Company
  • Isaac Awuondo, Group Managing Director, CBA
  • Gino Picasso, CEO, GloboKasNet

Complimenting the core agenda, there are a number of side sessions convening before and after the Forum. As we’ve mentioned, there will be two special side meetings on financial inclusion for persons with disabilities held before the Forum, the evening of October 27 and the morning of October 28. The event of the 28th, which is open to Forum participants and the public, is a panel of international experts that includes Luis Gallegos.

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> Posted by Jeffrey Riecke, Communications Assistant, CFI

Peru ranks as the developing country with the best environment for microfinance, followed by Bolivia, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Kenya, in that order. Latin America and the Caribbean is ranked as the best region in the world for microfinance, followed by Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and lastly the Middle East and North Africa. Globally, the microfinance industry is improving, fueled largely by an increase in credit bureaus, improving client protection, and the spread of regulatory frameworks for mobile banking.

These are a few of the big takeaways from the Global Microscope on the Microfinance Business Environment 2013, which was launched yesterday in Guadalajara at the IDB’s 2013 Foromic conference. Now in its seventh year, the Global Microscope annual series examines the environment for microfinance – and increasingly financial inclusion – by considering the national regulatory environment and the corresponding institutional framework.

Originally developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit in collaboration with the Multilateral Investment Fund and CAF, this year’s study is also sponsored by Citi Microfinance and CFI. This year’s report scores 55 countries, and in general, the global picture is promising. Since last year, 30 countries improved their scores, 19 fell back, and the scores of six countries remained the same. The majority of improvements this year came from advancements in institutional frameworks. The scores for regulatory framework and practices mostly declined.

As a region, Latin America and the Caribbean countries claimed half the slots in the global top ten, with Peru maintaining its previous ranking as the top country in part through improvements in regulation for mobile banking. Unlike the rising score for Peru, Bolivia’s score fell, due to restrictive new legislation, although not far enough to dislodge Bolivia from its number 2 ranking.

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> Posted by Center Staff

The total savings portfolio of the Philippine microfinance industry is greater than its total loan portfolio for the first time. News of the achievement came in an announcement last week from Amando M. Tetangco, Governor of the country’s central bank at the launch of the 11th Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards. During the first quarter of this year, the total savings of the country’s microfinance clients reached P8.2 billion (US$ 189 million), while their total loans were P8 billion (US$ 184 million). This is a dramatic surge in savings compared to the end of 2012, when industry totals were P6.4 billion in savings, and P8.4 billion in loans. These numbers suggest that as clients take out and repay loans, they’re able to sustain savings levels.

In The Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2012 Microscope on Microfinance, the Philippines was ranked as the fourth best microfinance business environment in the world, and as the microfinance environment with the best regulatory framework and practices. Last month the government enacted new legislation allowing foreign entities to hold up to 60 percent equity in the country’s government-sponsored rural banks, with the aim to further promote economic development in rural areas. The opportunity for expanding microfinance outreach in the Philippines remains great. Out of the Philippines population of 95 million, 33 percent live below the poverty line, and only 27 percent have an account at a formal financial institution.

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The views and opinions expressed on this blog, except where otherwise noted, are those of the authors and guest bloggers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Financial Inclusion or its affiliates.