Sanctions Painkiller: Series of webinars on navigating sanctions compliance

Sanctions Painkiller: Series of the webinar on navigating sanctions compliance

Amid the shifting and rapidly deteriorating geopolitical landscape, companies find themselves increasingly exposed to the risk of sanctions, operational and supervisory problems, and obligations to comply with regulations from multiple jurisdictions and organisations. Compliance measures must become more sophisticated to avoid facing penalties and reputational risks.
Over the years, the EU has imposed sanctions on a number of countries and entities, such as Iraq, Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela. In the last months, the EU and its allies have imposed a stringent sanction regime on Russia and Russian entities, amid the Ukrainian crisis.
Against this backdrop, the World Savings and Retail Banking Institute is pleased to launch a series of webinars aimed at providing critical intelligence, best practices, and key methods that institutions in the financial industry can employ the navigate the current sanction regime.
In the first webinar, speakers from Pideeco, will provide guidance and concrete examples on global sanctions and controls restrictions that will facilitate smooth overview and productive discussions.


Scale2Save brings Ugandan financial stakeholders to commit for financial inclusion

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

KAMPALA, 28 April 2022 – Key stakeholders of the Ugandan financial ecosystem came together during a Scale2Save knowledge sharing event, which concluded with a joint call to action with concrete steps to boost financial inclusion in the country.

Read the call to action

The signatories of this call to action, and initiative of the World Savings and Retail Banking Institute (WSBI) and its programme for financial inclusion, Scale2Save, are: the Uganda Bankers Association (UBA), Financial Sector Deepening Uganda (FSDU), The Association of Microfinance Institutions of Uganda (AMFIU), The Financial Technologies Service Providers Association (FITSPA), and the Mastercard Foundation.

“We are ready to work with all stakeholders to demonstrate the commitment of the industry, particularly in times of shocks. We are also ready to continue making contributions to the empowerment of low-income customers to seize economic opportunities, build resilience and, ultimately, have a better life”, state the signatories of the document.

This commitment was announced at the end of a 2-day Scale2Save event in Kampala entitled ‘Building resilience and economic empowerment for women and youth’ which brought together some 100 participants. Both the event and the call to action focused on the key drivers of financial inclusion such as customer-centricity, the potential of digital finance and sustainable business models.

Michael Atingi-Ego, Bank of Uganda’s Deputy Governor, described the current state of high financial exclusion of women and youth in the country during his keynote speech at the event.

“When you consider these observations about our lived reality, you start to see the imbalance that Scale2Save is attempting to address here today. This extent of financial exclusion of women and the youth tantamount to trying to balance a three-legged stool on one leg. This is unsustainable in a country that is working towards socio-economic transformation”, he said.

“I am pleased to participate in this event because the Bank of Uganda shares the objective of democratising access to and empowering the users of financial services, not least by championing the National Financial Inclusion Strategy, and through our strategic plan and operations. But like the multilegged stool, it will take the contribution of all stakeholders and partners to bring about universal financial inclusion,” added Mr Atingi-Ego.

Scale2Save is a six-year programme working six African countries including Uganda, where it partners with Centenary Bank, FINCA Uganda and BRAC Uganda Bank. Weselina Angelow is Scale2Save Programme Director. During the event, she presented some of the key lessons learned during the last years implementing financial inclusion initiatives in Uganda.

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Scale2Save champions inclusive financial services for Nigerians

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

LAGOS, 30 March 2022 – The World Savings and Retail Banking Institute (WSBI)’s programme for financial inclusion, Scale2Save, has reiterated the importance of inclusive financial services for Nigerian women, youths and farmers as a way to fuel the country’s economic recovery and growth. This was stated at the Scale2Save financial inclusion knowledge sharing event attended by key financial stakeholders across the country.

Watch the TV coverage

Scale2Save is a six-year programme of the World Savings and Retail Banking Institute in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation aimed at establishing the viability of low-balanced savings accounts and to unravel the extent to which savings help vulnerable people in the society to boost their financial wellbeing.

In her keynote address, the Scale2Save Programme Director, Weselina Angelow, highlighted the importance of stakeholders’ knowledge sharing events such as this towards Nigeria’s quest for inclusive growth and economic development. According to her, “As we intensify efforts to improve financial inclusion, it is important that all stakeholders are a part of knowledge and insight-based discourse as this to improve on their processes and make informed financial inclusion decisions.”

Reiterating the commitment of Scale2Save and how the programme is impacting its members as well as other stakeholders, Angelow stated that the programme’s mission is to support financial inclusion initiatives to help millions of Nigerian youths, women and farmers.

“We focus on adding value to all stakeholders along the service value chain by empowering our financial service provider partners to become savings-driven, customer-centric institutions,” she said.

The Mastercard Foundation’s Access to Finance Lead, Mercy Mutua, stressed that financial inclusion is an enabler to help African youth find a way out of poverty.

We acknowledge that a lot has been accomplished but there is a long way to go to address barriers, especially for young rural women. It is Important to tailor solutions relevant to context and customer-centric,” she said in a virtual keynote speech.

Commenting on the need to deepen financial inclusion in Nigeria, the Head of Financial Inclusion Secretariat, Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Paul Ihuoma Oluikpe, stated that financial service providers must target specific customer needs with financial inclusion products.

“There are several products in our financial services space that are too generic. These products are not targeting any value proposition, and are not sufficiently differentiated at the customer level. While there are generic products that appeal to the larger audience, there is the need to drill down at the customer level to target different nuances that exist in the society,” Dr. Oluikpe said.

The WSBI’s 2019 financial service provider survey reveals that attitudes to financial inclusion and low-value savings among financial service providers in Nigeria and other key markets in Africa are being significantly transformed as they have intensified their focus on customers, targeting different groups with tailored accounts and savings products.

Despite the significant progress recorded so far, stakeholders believe that there is still a long way to go to attain a satisfactory level of financial inclusion. Confirming this, the Group Head of Financial Inclusion, FCMB, Adetunji Lamidi, said, “Financial illiteracy is a major barrier to financial inclusion. What we see is a situation where a lot of Nigerians still have this overdependence on the informal financial sector. It takes a long trust-building process to switch them from the informal sector they are familiar with into the formal sector. This is why most of the financial service providers have adopted agency banking where people within the neighbourhood are used as bank representatives. This helps to build confidence, trust and convenience into our financial inclusion strategy.”

Through the intervention of Scale2Save, Financial Service Provider (FPIs) partners continue to innovate products and services that are driving up inclusion among the key target groups. Scale2Save continues to drive the message of financial inclusion while engaging with key stakeholders in target countries that can help actualise the inclusion objective.

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ESBG members waive bank transfer costs to support Ukrainian people

European Savings and Retail Banking Group (ESBG) members are standing in solidarity with people in need in Ukraine by waiving fees on bank transfers to the country already or taking steps towards doing it in the near future.

“Social responsibility is in our members’ DNA. This is why I’ve asked our members to bring financial resources at no cost to people in Ukraine during these difficult times”, said ESBG president Dominique Goursolle-Nouhaud.

The ESBG president has communicated about this topic with all 23 members, who represent over 850 banks in 18 European countries serving more than 160 million customers.

“It is a clear signal of solidarity that many ESBG members have been already waiving fees on bank transfers to Ukraine and others are taking steps towards doing it. Our thoughts are first and foremost with the Ukrainian people and these members are willing to leave profits aside to help”, said Goursolle-Nouhaud.

This meets the intention of a recent call by the European Central Bank (ECB). On 18 March, Andrea Enria, Chair of the Supervisory Board of the ECB, addressed a letter to ESBG and other main EU banking associations asking to suspend or reduce, on a voluntary basis, transaction costs for bank transfers to Ukraine and Moldova. The latter is considered the country for which the intake of refugees is most challenging. The letter followed a recommendation by Members of the European Parliament.

Press contact:

Leticia Lozano, Senior Communications Adviser

leticialozano@wsbi-esbg.org

Tel. +32 2211 1196

About ESBG

The European Savings Banking Group has 23 members in 18 countries. As some of its members are national organisations, ESBG represents the interests of over 850 banks working responsibly and closely with their communities and SMEs. Together, ESBG members manage assets worth €5,700 billion, serve 162 million Europeans and employ nearly 660,000 people. ESBG is headquartered in Brussels.

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Scale2Save is empowering Nigerian women through financial inclusion

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

On the occasion of International Women's Day

By Irene Wagaki

 

In 2019, LAPO Microfinance Bank of Nigeria undertook an audacious goal to onboard over 168,000 savers in three years through a child savings account. To help them meet this goal, management decided to use a Human-Centered Design (HCD) process to evaluate and revamp their offering. The My Pikin & I account, which means “My Child and I,” seeks to motivate consistent savings through incentives including micro-insurance for mothers and scholarships for their children.

Read it on FinDev Gateway

With the support of WSBI’s Scale2Save programme for financial inclusion and IDEO.org, the LAPO team conducted a two-phased HCD process. The first phase involved research, synthesis and ideation, and the second phase was prototyping, iteration and refining. Immersive research techniques such as observation, interviews and focus groups were used, followed by synthesis of findings to draw persona maps and insights that fed into the ideation activities.

Here’s what we learned through this process:

1

Make sure you have a specific strategic outcome in mind that human-centered design can address. In the case of the My Pikin & I product, the goals became clear upon holding initial stakeholder sessions with LAPO Microfinance Bank’s senior management teams. They sought to attract new clients and motivate them to save consistently, thus helping them attain the MFI’s goal for deposit mobilization. HCD was needed to realize that goal as it centers on clients’ personal needs and aspirations while meeting the institution’s strategic goals.

2

Keep it simple. Co-creating with customers requires simplified prototypes. The HCD process helped LAPO Microfinance Bank make communication materials more accessible to its target audience. During the prototyping exercises, customers suggested rewording the messaging to show the benefits one incentive at a time rather than providing loads of information in one poster.

3

Find out what motivates your clients and capitalize on it. Immersive customer interviews helped the LAPO Microfinance Bank team realize that the ability to save was not enough of a motivation for customers. They needed to see tangible benefits from the start in order to save consistently. So the team added a microinsurance incentive, offering premium-free coverage against accident and critical illness, that is tied to consistent savings behaviour. According to the product roadmap, LAPO Microfinance Bank plans to extend the cover to include health insurance. The design team was also intrigued to discover that customers preferred to keep their physical cashbooks as evidence of their savings rather than rely on the fully digitized system the team had designed. This finding provided an opportunity for LAPO Microfinance Bank to build trust by offering a redesigned physical cashbook, thus reinforcing the physical attachment to the cashbook as well as providing a savings tracking tool. Complementary evidence of transactions is also provided via SMS confirmation.

4

Customer-facing agents and personnel require the right tools, not just training. LAPO’s “aha” moment came when they realized that staff didn’t actually need more training on how to explain products’ features to new customers. What they really needed was a handy tool for onboarding customers. The design team created a visual pitch of the My Pikin & I product that spoke to the target customers’ aspirations, needs and concerns. The videos serve as explainers and are displayed on a tablet as part of the customer onboarding process.

5

Take advantage of the transformative potential of the HCD process. At its core, HCD is a highly collaborative process. LAPO’s team brought together people from many different departments, including savings, research, agency banking and customer service. They all participated in prototyping exercises with customers, using the feedback they received to adjust product design. This experience brought about organizational transformation for LAPO Microfinance Bank, as it helped to impart new skills, break hierarchy barriers and develop more innovative mindsets.

Next steps for LAPO: Experimentation Phase

After going through the HCD process, LAPO Microfinance Bank implemented the My Pikin & I product with a heavy on-ground presence of agents and roving staff. These agents continue to complement the bank’s physical and digital banking channels, especially in rural locations.

Their efforts have been successful. Since the products’ re-launch in 2019, over 125,000 new customers have joined LAPO Microfinance Bank and opened My Pikin & I accounts. However, the microinsurance incentive has not experienced a proportionate increase in uptake, with only 7,400 insurance takers. For LAPO Microfinance Bank to optimize the My Pikin & I product fully with its go-to-market strategies, the next step would be an experimentation phase to study which insurance benefits are most effective in sustaining a positive savings behavior.

Ultimately, the human-centered design process should be incorporated as an ongoing way of doing business, as it can help the MFI keep its clients’ needs and desires at the forefront, while also working towards the institutions’ goals.

 

About the author

Irene Wagaki works as a consultant for WSBI’s Scale2Save programme for financial inclusion in Africa. She is a behavioral researcher and designer at Lime Group Africa with experience in leading Human-Centered Design for digital financial services, savings, microinsurance, financial literacy and agri-business interventions. She holds an MBA and certifications in Behavioral Science, Human Centered Design and Digital Identity.

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Access to better technology for (Supervisory) Reporting

On 18 February 2022, the four European banking associations (EACB, EAPB, EBF and ESBG) co-hosted the “Access to better technology for (Supervisory) Reporting” workshop that brought together the entire European banking industry, the European Banking Authority and the international RegTech community to openly exchange views and learn from each other on how RegTech solutions could help banks reduce their reporting costs and what are the hurdles to clear along the way.

300 participants across Europe participated in this half-day, targeted workshop. The presentations delivered by the banking industry clearly revealed the many challenges and complexities the industry has been facing for about 15 years due to the flood of additional data reporting requirements to banks. Data has never been as important as it is now with regulatory reporting having shifted from a simple administrative task in the past to a strategic objective high in the agenda of banks and a steering tool, with supervisors placing increasing focus on data quality. The current situation is the result of a layering of successive regulations, by different authorities at national and EU level, with the added complexities of different definitions and shorter delivery times demanding substantial investment by banks in systems, processes, and specialized staff. Banks have been mastering these challenges very well, generally speaking, but there is always room to become even more efficient.

While there are existing cases where banks are already benefitting from the use of technology either from in-house solutions or by creating a shared utility as result of a joint venture or other forms of pooling of resources by a number of banking groups in a country, the discussion revealed there is still ample room to explore and lot of work ahead to benefit from technology at a large scale.

A dedicated panel composed by RegTechs based across Europe confirmed that technology is available or is being developed to support banks with a wide range of services offering from end-to-end to targeted solutions. RegTechs also confirmed complexity is the most challenging aspect in the current reporting environment identifying standardization, infrastructure, and automation as tools to decrease the complexity.

The different ways regulatory reporting is done in Europe also adds complexity. Creating a more functional and interconnected ecosystem is key to start moving towards a much-needed standardization where RegTechs can play a key role. Replying to questions raised by the banking industry, RegTechs stressed that technology should be seen as innovation that could help banks reach beyond the 15-24% cost reduction as estimated by an EBA study last year, rather than a black box that brings its own complexity. RegTechs are also trying to remove barriers by intensively promoting their services for which forums like the workshop organized by the trade banking associations was an ideal setting to bridge the gaps between RegTech and the banking industry.

With a forward-looking perspective, the EBA provided an overview of how the different recently launched initiatives such as the Integrated Reporting System and the Commission’s supervisory data strategy aim to shape the future of supervisory reporting. The challenge is big, but the benefits are worth. The banking industry, RegTech community and supervisory authority agreed events like the workshop are key to foster collaboration and they will stay in close contact.

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WSBI ESBG Events


Joint declaration on remote work and new technologies

On 7 December 2021, the European Banking Social Partners signed a Joint Declaration on Remote Work and New Technologies. The spread of the Covid-19 pandemic and the constantly increasing use of digitalised systems and processes led the Social Partners to reassess and appropriately update our approach to remote work in the European Banking sector.

In adaptable pattern of remote work, which allows for both higher productivity and an improved work-life balance, is a key aspect of the current and future ways of working. Therefore, UNI Europa Finance together with the EBF’s Banking Committee for European Social Affairs (EBF-BCESA), the European Savings and Retail Banking Group (ESBG) and the European Association of Co-operative Banks (EACB), worked together to ensure that employees’ and employers’ interests are safeguarded in these continuously changing working environments.

UNI Europa Finance President Michael Budolfsen said: “With remote work increasing at a rapid pace during Covid and beyond, it is opportune for the European Social Partners to come together to ensure this new way of working will stimulate a good work-life balance and not have a negative impact on the sector and its workers”.

UNI Europa Finance Director Maureen Hick added: “UNI Europa Finance welcomes the signing of this Joint Declaration and the commitment made today that remote work will not lead to any significant changes to bank employees’ rights and conditions and should be a topic of collective bargaining at all levels”.

Jens Thau, Chairman of EBF-BCESA, pointed out: “Banks and its employees have a strong track record of embracing new developments and putting them to work for their clients. The new Joint Declaration underscores the social partners’ commitment to responsibly shape this process of transformation.”

Michael Kammas, Vice-Chairman of EBF-BCESA highlighted: “The expertise of the Social Partners is pivotal when it comes to address new ways of working. This new Joint Declaration not only comes in the most appropriate time due to the pandemic and the continuous technological advancement, but it also shows the Social Partners’ ability to work together and agree on common approach encompassing all the significant aspects of Remote Work to ensure banks’ competitiveness and adaptability to the digitalized world of work.”

Peter Simon, Managing Director said for ESBG: “The Social Partners continuously strive for stable working conditions in accordance with the greater working situation. The Covid-19 crisis has escalated the need to establish good teleworking practices and adapt many roles to remote work. This Joint Declaration strengthens our commitment to employees to provide a secure environment”.

Nina Schindler, CEO of EACB explained: “The Social Partners’ agreement on the Joint Declaration on Remote Work is an effective and timely response to changes in working conditions. By signing this Joint Declaration, we demonstrate as the EACB our intent to safeguard the interests of European co-operative banks’ employees.”

The Social Partners have always proactively engaged with the effects of digitalisation. This new Joint Declaration builds on our previous commitments on Telework (2017) and on the Impact of Digitalisation on Employment (2018) by focusing on remote work as a specific type of adaptation to the way of working in the digitalised era. Understanding, shaping and keeping up with technological developments are very much at the heart of the European Social Partners’ approach in order to contribute to a strong and resilient banking industry.

To this end, the Social Partners have agreed to a common understanding regarding key aspects of remote work. These include collective trade union rights, health and safety, work-life balance, working hours and the right to disconnect, digital rights, resource and equipment costs, and access to training and career development.

This Joint Declaration on Remote Work and New Technologies is another significant achievement for the European Banking Social Partners, showing our continued commitment to engage together in current issues of common interest and adding our unique knowledge and contribution to the general debate on digitalisation.

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Digital platforms serving the agricultural sector

Scale2Save Campaign

Micro savings, maximum impact.

BRUSSELS, 18 November 2021 - The World Savings and Retail Banking Institute (WSBI) programme for financial inclusion, Scale2Save, launched today ‘A case study on digital platforms serving the agricultural sector’, the fifth of its State of the Savings and Retail Banking Sector in Africa research series.

This new publication, co-authored with FinMark Trust, an independent non-profit trust for making financial markets work for the poor, explores the topic from the point of view of Financial Service Providers (FSPs). It aims to answer two key questions FSPs must consider when weighing whether to launch an online platform for farmers: Why should I participate – and if I do, what must I keep in mind? This case study looks at a variety of African agricultural platform providers and more closely at three platform models: bank-led (First City Monument Bank in Nigeria), fintech-led (DigiFarm in Kenya) and telco-led (EcoFarmer in Zimbabwe).

The emergence of digital platforms serving farmers in Africa is of enormous importance as the agricultural sector employs more than half of the continent’s labour force, and accounts for almost 20% of the continent’s gross domestic product.

Platform models are still very new in the agricultural arena. However, the use of platform services to support smallholder farmers has blossomed. During the pandemic they proved a valuable lifeline, enabling farmers to stay in touch with their value chain partners, from financial service providers to farm input suppliers and off-takers.

Looking forward, agricultural digital platforms clearly have the potential to play a powerful role as a catalyst for financial inclusion and to transform the food sector into a more inclusive one that offers viable opportunities for smallholder farmers.

This case study is guided by the overarching objective of the WSBI research series, which is to inform FSPs about developments in the finance industry that affect services to low-income customers.

WSBI’s Scale2Save programme is a six-year partnership with the Mastercard Foundation.

The publication is available for download free of charge here.

Downloads

Case study cover

The publication is available for download here.

FULL CASE STUDY - ENFULL CASE STUDY - FRALL CASE STUDIES

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Isidro Fainé re-elected as WSBI president

Isidro Fainé, president of “la Caixa" Banking Foundation, was re-elected for another three years as president of World Savings and Retail Banking Institute (WSBI) at the organisation's 2021 General Assembly, held in Paris. The Institute's Managing Director will be Peter Simon of Germany.

WSBI members devote 1.8 billion dollars annually to the fight against poverty and social inequality.

The priorities for the coming years are: financial inclusion, promoting sustainable finance, innovation and embracing digitisation to forge ever-closer relations with customers, and strengthening solvency within the framework of Basel IV.

Besides Isidro Fainé and Peter Simon, the WSBI President’s Committee is formed by Dominique Goursolle-Nouhaud, president of the Fédération Nationale des Caisses d’Epargne (France); Rebeca Romero Rainey, president & CEO of the Independent Community Bankers of America (USA); Macario Armando Rosales Rosa, president of Fedecrédito (El Salvador); Helmut Schleweis, president of the German Savings Banks Association (Germany); Isara Wongrung, executive vice-president of the Government Savings Bank (Thailand); and Redouane Najmeddine, chairman of the Management Board of the Banque Al Barid (Morocco).

The members of the Assembly of this Institute, which represents the interests of 6,500 savings banks and retail banks in more than 60 countries, unanimously re-elected Isidro Fainé as WSBI president for the next three years. Peter Simon of Germany will be managing director over the same period.

The priority lines of action established for the coming years include financial inclusion, promoting sustainable finance (reflecting the fact that WSBI member institutions are characterised by their social commitment to the communities in which they operate), exchanges of good practice in the implementation of the new Basel IV solvency framework, and innovation, seeking to make digitalisation a tool to bring members closer to customers.

In his speech, Isidro Fainé noted that, “over the coming years, we will have to address major challenges: economic recovery, increasing inequality, demographic changes that will put pressure on natural resources, climate change, sustainability… The urge to help the most vulnerable and strengthen the community forms part of our members’ DNA: members’ social contributions stand at some 1.8 billion dollars per year, aimed at fighting poverty and social exclusion”.

During Isidro Fainé’s first mandate as president (2018-2021), the organisation focused on the following issues:

1) Promoting financial inclusion:

The WSBI has exceeded the targets set by the World Bank in its commitment to Universal Financial Access (UFA2020), increasing the number of banked people by 329 million between 2014 and 2020. Moreover, the organisation’s cooperation with the Mastercard Foundation was strengthened, leading to the launch of such initiatives as Scale2Save, focused on promoting savings in Africa. Collaboration also began with the Profuturo digital literacy project to promote financial education in developing countries.

2) Increasing dialogue with international organisations:

In response to the crisis caused by the pandemic, the WSBI has focused on promoting economic, fiscal and social measures before regulators, aimed at establishing a flexible framework that enables both a successful recovery from the crisis and that the new demands that arise as a result can be satisfied.

3) Encouraging cooperation among members:

The World Savings and Retail Banking Institute is formed by four regional groups (Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa, and North America/Latin America/Caribbean). The coronavirus crisis has resulted in increased exchanges of good practice in responding to the financial needs of all types of groups, institutions, large enterprises, SMEs and families.

The World Congress also renewed the mandates of the other statutory bodies, including the Coordination Committee. Antonio Romero, Corporate Director of Association Services and Resources at CECA, was elected as chair of this committee, which coordinates the associated activities of the WSBI and the European Savings and Retail Banking Group (ESBG). Similarly, Joan Rosàs, Director of International Institutional Relations at CaixaBank, was appointed as the representative of the WSBI Board for International Relations. This representation strengthens the participation of the Spanish banking sector in European and international working groups.

Founded in 1924, the WSBI represents the interests of 6,500 savings and retail banks around the world. WSBI members have total assets of 15 trillion dollars, employing 2.2 million workers and serving some 1,400 million customers in 63 countries, with a network of 221.577 offices providing banking services all types of groups, institutions, large enterprises, SMEs and families.

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