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Heinrich Haasis: WSBI global reach helps G20 aims

Heinrich Haasis: WSBI global reach helps G20 aims


WSBI Conference at G20 2018 Argentina Presidency:

G20 and locally focused banks – Good for Sustainable Societies

>> Learn more: WSBI event in Buenos Aires | >> Speech: Chris De Noose at WSBI G20 event

Conference opening​ remarks​


WSBI President Heinrich Haasis

Wednesday 21 March 2018 | Banco Nación, Buenos Aires, Argentina

13:00 Argentina Time


Ladies and Gentlemen,

As president of WSBI, I would like to thank you for joining us for today's WSBI G20 Conference: “G20 and Locally Focused Banks – Good for sustainable societies." I am most delighted to see such a huge number of participants in this room. Such a high response rate proves once again the relevance and importance of what we will be discussing today.

We are grateful to Banco de la Nación to host this year's event in this stunning city and proud country. We also say thanks to our other sponsors and WSBI members CaixaBank of Spain, Banco Caja Social of Colombia, and Sistema Fedecrédito of El Salvador. Thank you for your support.

Why WSBI convenes the event​

The event hopes for constructive dialogue to occur between my colleagues from WSBI-ESBG member banks, along with stakeholders and policy-makers. The event also gives us a chance to see how some of the G20 themes from the Argentina Presidency fit into our banking model.

But before I begin, let me set the scene by sharing with you the savings and retail banking story. That starts with the body where I serve as president – the WSBI – the World Savings and Retail Banking Institute. Locally focused banks who are member banks of WSBI have an important role to play in a stable financial system at national and global levels. That means locally focused savings and retail banks are a bridge to local communities in a globalised world.

WSBI: Who we are

Before going any further, let me share the story of WSBI. WSBI is an association that helps member savings and retail banks thrive. It looks to help its members focus on serving local communities and boosting small and medium-sized business firms that form  the foundation of the real economy.  More than 100 WSBI members, representing about 7,000 banking institutions in Africa, Europe, the Americas and the Asia-Pacific Region, are active in 80 countries throughout the world and serve more than a billion customers, in developing and developed countries alike.

Locally focused banking model: our overall position

So how do our members, and the banking model they apply, serve local communities? They support the real economy. First, our large member banks make a difference by being significant finance providers to the largest companies in their countries. 

Second, locally focused banks provide lending to small and medium-sized businesses and private households. They provide people with financial services, with in-depth knowledge of local needs, local business activity, and local authorities. Locally driven banks are small and large institutions that take different shapes and forms in different countries, and oftentimes have decentralised structures. Thanks to their proximity to their customers, they are perfectly placed to bring the global opportunities of a global economy to the local level. In this way, locally focused banks can manage risk on the ground while in an internationally connected economy.

To make these puzzle pieces fit, the G20 Argentine presidency should take sufficient account of locally focused institutions. This has three main areas:

  • First, boosting access to traditional bank financing for SMEs: The most logical and simple way for an SME to get financing is to get a credit from a bank, rather than risking it on the global financial markets. SMEs don't have the time, nor the know-how to do this. Locally focused banks are ideally placed to help. They know how local businesses work and spend a lifetime doing it. It's the basis for our values: Retail, Regional and Responsible. As I said last year, WSBI members often say: “Think and act at local level, cooperate at global level."

  • ​Second, putting in place proportionate banking rules to take into account a bank's specific business model, size and risk. A “one-size fits all approach" doesn't work. If policy fails to apply this “tier-based" approach, expect the gap to widen between different groups – rural or urban – benefiting from the fruits of globalisation. 

  • Third, promoting models of financial inclusion and financial education. To bridge this globalisation gap, efforts must be made to boost access to basic banking services and change hearts and minds so people feel a want and need to access them. From their start in the 19th century, savings and retail banks have always used financial education as a path to help people take control of their lives. The very reason for their creation was to include the working classes into the formal economy. 

​To this day, these “self-help" roots remain part of our DNA. Financial education and financial inclusion can only work if governments, citizens as well as banks like ours work together. I can ensure you that the WSBI members are ready to do their part.

G20 and WSBI

Our global reach, our focus and our purpose fits well with our overall G20 aim and themes highlighted this year. The 19 major advanced and emerging economies and the European Union overlap well with WSBI membership markets. That said, we see G20 as THE forum for us to exchange on global regulatory frameworks.


Because G20 and its stakeholders shape global financial policy. The G20 impacts WSBI member banks and the places where they serve. We see a unique role for WSBI to share our story with G20 members.

One way we communicate with G20 parties and stakeholders is through WSBI's “Institutional Position to the G20", which you should have received in your event packet today. This year's paper presents our stance on two of this year's main G20 themes: “The Future of Work" and “Infrastructure for Development".

IDB-WSBI collaboration

As part of our G20 work, we have been working with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB Group). We hope that this collaboration will expand as we look to do several concrete projects to promote financial inclusion and micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises financing in the Latin America and Caribbean region.

There are many areas where we would like to collaborate further, which includes:

  • Digitisation for 'last mile' financial inclusion;

  • Data sharing to better serve micro-sized and small-sized businesses through big data;

  • Generating knowledge and financing among the agricultural population; and

  • Knowledge sharing by WSBI members on innovation & digitisation with IDB Group

We hope the collaboration will also try to address WSBI members' need for long-term financing.

We look forward to discussing next steps with IDB. WSBI members from the Latin American region, many of whom are with us today, are invited to identify their own specific needs for which they could cooperate with the IDB Group. We understand that the IDB Group does not start any work until there is a clearly identified demand from our members.

Today's line-up

I would like to take a minute to tell you what is in store for today.

That dialogue begins early when representatives  from the IDB, Banco de la Nación Argentina as well as representatives from the Argentinean central bank and B20 will exchange on the opportunity offered by the G20 ​presidency for Latin America and the Caribbean. Following that, we will begin our first panel, which will explore better regulation for better inclusion. With representatives from the IDB Group, B20, Argentina's treasury and WSBI member bank BANSEFI.

The second panel take a digital path, looking at how best to build a financial business ecosystem in the digital age. Matt Gamser, CEO of IFC's SME Finance Forum will lead a discussion with our member in El Salvador with innovation leaders. And finally, Panel 3: Sustainable Finance – a main engine for economic growth: Silvia Pavoni, economics editor for The Banker will lead a discussion with representatives from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Findeter in Colombia.

Introduction of Diego Prieto

I am now delighted to give the floor to Diego Fernando Prieto. He is the president of the WSBI Latin America and the Caribbean Regional Group and president of Banco Caja Social. He has done much at Banco Caja Social since starting his professional career there in 1989. His career path included stops as an analyst, an economic researcher, a human resources manager. After that he was vice president of human development at Fundación Social, Enterprise and developers business vice president of Banco Caja Social. During his career, he has been member of numerous boards of directors.

Without adding much more, please welcome to the podium Diego Prieto.


>> See WSBI's G20 Institutional Positions Paper

>> More on WSBI event on G20 Argentina

>> Link: Argentina G20 presidency​

G20; Sustainability; Digitalisation