BRUSSELS, 29 August 2014 – In advance to the November 2014 G20 Summit in Brisbane the World Bank released a report which reviews the benefits of digital payments.
Published jointly with the Better Than Cash Alliance and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the report explores the challenges faced by countries looking at increasing the use of digital remittances, and suggests what government and private sector could do.
The document includes a call on governments by year-end 2015, by the next G20 Summit to be hosted by Turkey, to make progress in the following areas:
- Digitize their payments and receipts including social transfers;
- Engage actively on the regulatory agenda;
- Convene public and private sectors to create a basic technical platform infrastructure across which providers can compete on product development; create an enabling environment that fosters private-sector innovation;
- Guide financial service providers to educate consumers and small businesses about their options to increase confidence, competence, and adoption;
- Recognise the role of remittance providers in offering a digital entry point to formal financial services for senders and receivers; and
- Look to multilateral development banks and comparable agencies as source of comparative expertise in this emerging field.
The report makes its case with the support of a substantial body of referenced research and provides compelling data examples. Whilst digitised payments can dramatically reduce governments' costs, benefits for recipients are the encouragement to utilise accounts, and through this to move up to other services such as savings or insurance. As to providers of digital payment services they will benefit not only from more transaction revenue but also better customer information including credit information and reduced incidences of non-performing loans. It once again stresses the importance of remittances, for which providing access to digital payments in rural areas is critical. The paper also lists the existing supply-side and demand-side challenges, encourages governments to act, and to engage positively with the private sector.
The paper is important for the WSBI because it vindicates its position held for many years that it is the migration to dematerialised payments that drives financial inclusion – not the converse. Whilst the responsibility of governments in removing barriers to digitalisation cannot be played down, WSBI stresses that financial industry participants including members should exploit every opportunity to position and prepare actively for a more digitalized payments environment – a process in which they can seek support from WSBI's Training and Consultancy Services.