The first WSBI Workshop on Rural Financial Inclusion, hosted by the Postal Savings Bank of China, concluded that challenges in rural finance are enormous while progress is continuing thanks to efforts by government and financial institutions and the advancement in digitization.
ILO (International Labour Organization) refers to Rural Finance as the provision of financial services in rural areas that supports a wide range of economic activities and households of various income levels. It includes financial services that support agricultural as well as non-agricultural activities.
Rural finance is much more complex than SMEs financing, as the clientele pattern is diversified. Rural population has groups that earn income in different sectors, very small-scale business, informal employment, farming, etc. Providing financial services in rural areas is an indeed challenge as agriculture and other rural economic activities have unique characteristics of dependence on natural resources, long production cycles and vulnerability to multiple risks.
Challenges highlighted at the first workshop include: how to address rural finance accurately and precisely; how to address the gap of information asymmetry when it comes to credit and consumer protection; how to embed financial services into different life scenarios; how to address agent managements; how to leverage big data to create innovative products and services, etc.
The 2nd Workshop will build on the outcome of discussion at the first workshop and deepen the exchange on different challenges. It will be followed by a one-day training course and a field visit that aims to improve the understanding of rural finance thus to be inspired. It will mainly address:
 Developing the Rural Economy through Financial Inclusion: The Role of Access to Finance http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_emp/---emp_policy/documents/publication/wcms_437194.pdf