Global network for financial inclusion issues ‘Manila Manifesto’

The 2023 Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) Global Policy Forum issued last week the ‘Manila Manifesto’ which calls for boosting ties with global financial standard-setting bodies to make financial products and services accessible, safe, and affordable for all.

The  forum, jointly hosted by AFI and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) from 14-15 September, drew about 700 delegates from central banks, ministries of finance, financial regulators, multilateral institutions, the academe,  and partner organizations  from 70 countries.

BSP Governor Eli M. Remolona, Jr. said “the Manila Manifesto urges AFI members to apply global regulatory standards without hindering financial inclusion and to create regulations that are responsive and relevant to our shared goals.”

“Given the difficult challenges facing the world today, there is a compelling need for us to continue to share, support, and learn from one another on how we can lift more people out of poverty through financial inclusion,” Governor Remolona added.

In his keynote speech, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rex Gatchalian highlighted the critical role of collective action in the pursuit of financial inclusion. He said, “the path to financial inclusion and shared prosperity is a multi-faceted journey that requires dedication, innovation, and collaboration.”

Founding Chair of the Asia School of Business and former Bank Negara Malaysia Governor Zeti Aziz underscored that financial inclusion is a collective effort among agencies within and across countries. In view of this, she noted, “AFI has evolved a global community that has propelled the advancement of financial inclusion, bringing together stakeholders, from policymakers to representatives of the private sector from all parts of the world — to be aligned to achieve financial inclusion.”

AFI Board Chair and Reserve Bank of Fiji Governor Ariff Ali also said the alliance leverages the strength of its diverse members which vary in economic conditions, regulatory environments, and financial infrastructure. “AFI’s network allows these nations to tap into the experiences and expertise of their peers, enabling tailored solutions that reflect local realities while aligning with global standards,” he added.

AFI Executive Director Alfred Hannig explained that the “Manila Manifesto” builds on AFI’s engagements with standard-setting bodies. Noting that collaboration and thinking out of the box enable AFI to find solutions, he said, “We are very optimistic about the contribution AFI can make in delivering on both stability and sustainable development.”

The forum featured information sessions and enabled knowledge exchange among regulators, the academe, industry participants, and other financial inclusion stakeholders from across the world.

It also served as venue for the conferment of AFI’s annual Global Awards, which recognizes the contributions and engagement of member institutions and individual policymakers in the AFI network.

Under the Global Awards, the National Bank of Rwanda received the “Nestor Espenilla, Jr. Financial Inclusion Award” for demonstrating outstanding commitment in furthering financial inclusion using digital technology. According to AFI, the award is given in honor of the memory and legacy of the late former BSP Governor Espenilla Jr, a founding member and lifelong advocate of AFI.

AFI estimates that 1.4 billion people are  still excluded from the formal financial system.

The Manila Manifesto is available at