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The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision has requested comment on a draft guidance document that for the first time addresses the responsibilities of regulators and supervisors in the context of financial inclusion. Given the potential impact of this guidance on regulators around the world, we invited Daniel M. Schydlowsky to review and comment. Dr. Schydlowsky is a fellow at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government at the Harvard Kennedy School, and the former head of the Superintendency of Banks and Insurance Companies of Peru.

The draft guidance issued by the Basel Committee is unquestionably an enormous step forward. It identifies, describes, and qualifies how supervisors should behave in relation to financial inclusion. It also describes numerous particular situations that supervisors have to confront and suggests responses. It thereby provides the representative supervisor with what amounts to an encyclopedia of supervisory wisdom.

The guidance is comprehensive, it treats (almost) everything. That is its strength. But, it did not create an effective hierarchy of importance to guide supervisors as they confront their new mandate to generate financial inclusion. In what follows, some central issues are raised, which, in the opinion of this author, need to be incorporated into the guidance or highlighted to denote greater relative importance.

The Dilemma of the Supervisors

  • Too much to do with too few resources: The supervisors have limited staff and many things to do, starting with making sure the financial system is safe, the books are kept properly, required information is supplied reliably and on time, and capital and other requirements are complied with. On top of this come new responsibilities related to financial inclusion. When reading the guidance, a whole second staff would appear to be needed to comply properly with what is suggested. It is absolutely imperative that the limited resources of the supervisor be factored into what is requested that they do.

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> Posted by Bruce J. MacDonald, Vice President, Communications & Operations, CFI

(Photo by Damon Jacoby ©2015)

In New York yesterday to celebrate the launch of the FI2020 Progress Report (and Accion’s and Citi’s 50-year partnership, and the awarding of the first Accion Edward W. Claugus Award – Accion never does anything by halves…), we had the privilege of an audience with Dr. Daniel Schydlowsky.

Dr. Schydlowsky, recipient of said award, hardly needs introducing. As Superintendent of Banking, Insurance & Private Pension Fund Administrators for Peru, and as chair of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion, he symbolizes the gold standard of financial inclusion regulation. Scratch that – he is the gold standard. Peru has ranked at the top of the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Microscope report for seven consecutive years. And to paraphrase the old E.F. Hutton TV ad, when Daniel Schydlowsky speaks, people listen. “We can perfectly well keep banking systems safe, and still do something for inclusion,” he said, explaining his philosophy of regulation (and thereby, perhaps, Peru’s standing). “Indeed, the more we include, the safer we’re making the banking system.”

Like our new Progress Report, Schydlowsky outlined his view of what lies ahead and what he’s excited about. First up: The promise of new loan-origination techniques. Making microloans is an artisanal craft, and thus expensive. But he is optimistic about the promise of new developments: big data, customer-relationship tools, and psychometric training (again, as is our Progress Report). Come to Peru, he urged innovators, where you will find a willing partner and audience.

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> Posted by Bailey Klinger, Asim Ijaz Khwaja, and DJ DiDonna, Co-Founders and COO, Entrepreneurial Finance Lab

The recent Financial Inclusion 2020 conference took a very private-sector focus to financial inclusion, with headliners such as Citigroup and MasterCard CEOs, demonstrating the shared importance of financial inclusion across all types of institutions. It also illustrated the enormity of the problem at hand, and subsequently the proximity of the year 2020 by which to address it. Participants agreed that an integral aspect of this gap is solving the puzzle of how financial institutions can evaluate risk for information-scarce micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), and do so while keeping transaction costs low.

Industrial and organizational psychology has been working for decades on a problem with similar characteristics: how to screen people applying for jobs. Firms must decide which individuals to hire, often based on little available information. Moreover, firms must evaluate a large number of applicants in a low-cost way, particularly for entry-level positions. In response to this challenge, industrial psychology has developed a series of assessments of individuals that predict a person’s future success in a job in an objective, quantitative, scalable way. This field, which assesses skills, abilities, personalities, and intelligence, is known as psychometrics.

Our innovation at the Entrepreneurial Finance Lab (EFL) is to use psychometrics to assess an assortment of features of potential entrepreneurs and to bring this testing method to developing countries. Starting as a research project at Harvard in 2010, we have developed a 30-60 minute automated psychometric application that incorporates the potential borrower’s attitude and outlook, ability, business acumen, and character. It can measure risk without relying on business plans, credit history, collateral, or group liability.

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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.