The WSBI World Congress aims at bringing WSBI and ESBG members and all interested retail bankers together to discuss the topics that define the future of the retail banking sector and to bring a powerful message to the worldwide policymaking community.
The congress features speakers and panelists from WSBI's membership as well as experts from the banking sector around the world. It offers the attendees insights during high-impact panel discussions.
The WSBI World Congress of Savings and Retail Banks is an excellent opportunity to create and strengthen business relationships and to promote your products and services to an international audience of retail bankers and policy makers.
Is the tide turning against globalisation? Are too many people feeling left behind by global growth? These questions are being asked more and more, reinforced by the tendency of some countries to shift towards protectionism… Yet, while raising living standards, globalisation is a positive force able to lift many people out of poverty. Over the past half-century, globalisation has brought many benefits to the world economy. Openness to trade enhanced competition and spread technology; income and jobs increased. Stronger income growth allowed global poverty and cross-country gaps to decline.
However, very few citizens experience this positive force in their everyday life. Inequalities still exist and are rising.
In such context, local savings and retail banks' role is undeniable.
The financial sector has an important role to play when it comes to globalisation. Trade integration relies on financial links (for payments, investments, etc.), creates additional financial links and stimulates foreign direct investment (FDI). One can say that the financial sector is symbiotic with global trade.
At the local level, globalisation allows citizens to access a greater variety of goods too, while inward investment provides jobs and skills to workers. Besides, while countries open to trade grow faster, their living standards tend to increase too.
Globalisation has a positive impact on SMEs and local communities. It provides more employment opportunities, gives them access to wider markets and availability of a greater variety of goods. In return, businesses trigger innovation, add new jobs to the economy, which has a positive impact on workers. Very often, the main obstacle to such developments is financing. Here is the role of retail banking: providing such support.
Savings and retail banks are the banks with the strongest regional presence. A big branch network, complemented by digital customer channels is testament to that presence. As traditional partners of their local private and commercial partners, savings and retail banks are uniquely placed to accompany their clients on their international expansion and relay the benefits of globalisation to local communities. Indeed, retail banks are ideally placed to help the private sector adjust to new economic realities, with an extra focus on social sustainability. They can provide financing to local SMEs so that they can go and conquer the world. That is when global and local join hands in order to create a better future for all of us. These banks base their financial decisions on the needs of people and SMEs, and thus positively finance businesses that benefit to society. In the current context of post economic crisis, sustainable retail banking gained prominence and appears as a fair trade-off between individuals, business and investors.
So that everyone gets the most out of globalisation, domestic policies must guarantee a more equal redistribution of the growth generated and fuelled by globalisation. As stated by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde in her speech “Building a more resilient and inclusive global economy", the world economy needs to be based on a foundation of sound domestic policies, combined with a steadfast commitment to international cooperation.
India: a gigantic retail banking market in the making
India is undergoing a digital revolution thanks to which more and more Indians will be included in the financial system. The country is one of the most cash intensive economies in the world, 97% of all transactions being made in cash. Reason why India is among countries with the lowest access to digital payments in the world. Yet, as said previously, digital technologies are an opportunity to connect unprivileged and poor people – the unbanked – to financial services such as savings, loans, insurance. A blessing in rural areas in particular.
In 2014, Indian Prime minister Narendra Modi announced the launch of a program aimed at financial inclusion which priority was to ensure that each Indian household has a bank account. Accessible financial services had to become global and affordable. In a developing country as India, banks have an important role in mobilizing savings and allocating credit in order to trigger investment and production. Several measures have been settled to reach such goals in India. The Financial Stability and Development council has been given a special mandate to promote financial inclusion and financial literacy. The Reserve Bank of India and the government also played an important role in terms of building infrastructures and raising awareness.
Considerable investments in creating infrastructures have been and still are made to offer various solutions such as mobile banking, e-wallets or virtual cards. Digital-only banking in India is based on the Aadhaar infrastructure, the world's largest biometric ID system to which 99% of the Indian population is enrolled to. This Unique Identification Number (UID) can be used as a permanent financial address and thus facilitates financial inclusion of the weaker sections of Indian society.
As a result, over the past years, an enormous amount of bank accounts have been opened in the country while studies show the positive impact of bank branches and retail banks on the GDP on India, financial inclusion being strongly associated with its progress and development.
Many reasons why you should attend this event…
Many speakers and panellists from all over the world will attend the 25th WSBI World Congress and share their experience and views on the topic of globalisation, financial inclusion and the role of savings and retail banksin this respect. It will be the occasion to hear about how those banks can make their infrastructure in the field of payments, credit decisions, financial advice work while bringing the benefits of globalisation to every street and every house. You will have the occasion to know better about robots breakthrough in manufacturing and how to cope with the threats it is bringing: what's left of the human dimension of work, how to train the workforce, what about social protection and what influence on banks? A particular focus will be made on India, a country that has been able to provide an electronic ID to more than one billion of its citizens in only ten years. We will see how this can lead to a higher level of financial inclusion. This will allow us to compare different models, from financial institutions in developing countries and their European counterparts.
A more detailed programme and more practical information will be shared within the next weeks…
Building a more resilient and inclusive global economy. Curtain raiser speech ahead of the 2017 IMF Spring Meetings delivered at Bruegel on 12 April 2017