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WSBI General Assembly 2017

WSBI General Assembly 2017
Date: 23/11/2017 - 24/11/2017
Location: Cape Town, South Africa

​​​​​​​​​Turning globalisation and digitisation into key drivers of financial inclusion​​

​Members look to harness globalisation, digitisation to drive financial inclusion

More than 80 representatives from WSBI members around the world on 23-24 November met in Cape Town for the annual WSBI General Assembly and conference.  

The two-day gathering kicked off with the statutory meetings, namely the Presidents Committee and a separate joint meeting of the Board of Directors and General Assembly. All meetings were led by WSBI President Heinrich Haasis, who welcomed participants and thanked event host Postbank South Africa. 

​​In the latter meeting, WSBI Managing Director De Noose provided participants with an overview of the latest developments and achievements in the various fields of work of WSBI since the last General Assembly meeting. Those included high-and working-level meetings with international policy makers and standard-setters, greater involvement in G20 and BIAC work streams as well as financial inclusion initiatives. He reported that successful advocacy events were undertaken as well as a high amount of exchange of experience and best practices took place, especially on the innovation and digitalisation front.

Also during the joint WSBI Board-General Assembly were progress reports presented by WSBI regional group presidents in Africa, Asia, and Latin America on work done by members in areas such as financial inclusion, digitisation and “de-risking”​. Updates from European and U.S. members also took place, which included an update on regulatory, especially a proportionate, tier-based approach to current and future banking legislation. The joint meeting concluded with the unveiling of the WSBI 2018 work plan, which spelled out priorities for the year. Those priorities included strengthening the profile and influence of WSBI advocacy activities on relevant G20 priority files, enhancing exchange of best practices in particular in the field of digitalization and innovation, pursuing the UFA 2020 goals, implementing the WSBI-ESBG transformation plan and conducting various regional projects.

Financial inclusion conference
Following the statutory meetings that lasted through midday on Day 1, WSBI convened a conference focused on financial inclusion. South Africa Post Office CEO Mark Barnes provided the keynote address following welcoming remarks from WSBI President Haasis. 

Panels and workshop sessions gave conference attendees a chance to discuss and exchange views on how public institutions can take part in financial inclusion. Dialogues followed each panel and touched on a spectrum of subtopics, including: digitisation as a stimulus for rural development, regulatory aspects of digitisation and financial inclusion, consumer protection and customer satisfaction, small-case savings as a source of profit for banks, among others. Participants heard success stories and case studies of financial inclusion examples from South Africa, India, France, Spain, Germany, Norway and the United States. Statutory meetings also were held during the event for WSBI members only.

Financial inclusion, the digital wave, regulatory aspects
Panel 1 focused on financial inclusion and the digital revolution, with an introductory presentation Financial inclusion and the digitisation of Self-Help Groups: an Indian experience by H. K. Bhanwala, Chairman of National Bank For Agriculture And Rural Development of India. That followed with discussion on digitisation as a stimulus for rural development with speakers from National Bank For Agriculture And Rural Development of India and Postbank South Africa. 

Panel 2 focused on regulatory aspects of digitisation and financial inclusion, with and introductory presentation on E-identification and digital on boarding and the regulatory aspects for customer due diligence and know your customer with J. Delhaye of member BCEE Luxembourg. That followed with a dialogue on e-identification, data protection, and data mining with the South African Reserve Bank, BCEE, Swedish Savings Banks Association and State Bank of India. The explored where to draw the line between consumer protection and customer satisfaction.

Financial inclusion and the business case for small-scale savings
Day two kicked off with a Panel 3, which featured a talk by Shaheen Adam, Acting Managing Director of Postbank South Africa, who shared how Postbank became a fully-fledged bank in South Africa, how they managed it and what can other post banks learn from it. The third panel was followed by a case study by French savings banks on microcredit and financial inclusion with FNCE President Jean Arondel. A discussion followed on financial inclusion as a business case: how small-scale savings can be a source of profit for banks. That exchange included WSBI members Postbank South Africa, Fedecrédito, Postbank Uganda as well as Mastercard  Foundation, who partner with WSBI in the Making Small Scale Savings Work program. 

Success stories and future of banking
The conference concluded with a quick-fire session on SMEs and SME financing as a motor for local development. Ten-minute 10-minute presentations of success stories from Spain, Germany, Norway and the United States followed by conclusions by an IFC representative on the role of private sector development, governments and SMEs. Chris De Noose then provided a wrap-up of the conference on the future of retail banking followed by closing remarks by WSBI President Heinrich Haasis. A representative from Postbank South Africa officially closed the conference. A customer centricity workshop was held by CGAP immediately following the event. ​