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BRUSSELS, 31 October 2017
Statement by WSBI on World Savings Day 2017, which is celebrated today.
Today we once again celebrate the virtue savings.
Savings have always created a nest egg, a rainy day fund – a way to financially 'smooth out' some of the fog in an often uncertain world. World Savings Day tells this story on a global scale. People from throughout the world will take part today in a global celebration dedicated to the virtue of saving money. World Savings Day is being celebrated for the 93rd consecutive year by the World Savings and Retail Banking Institute – WSBI – and its members who come from some 80 countries.
Savings is a good habit wherever one lives. But the current low interest rates, for example in many developed countries, do not really offer an incentive for savers. In fact, low interest rates penalize thrift.Since monetary policymakers in many developed countries, including Europe and the United States, lowered the interest rates during the crisis, you can say that in a certain way, it is savers who have paid for the crisis.
This year's theme is “Our future starts with savings". The theme evokes one main idea: that the future begins at a young age through financial education programmes. Those programmes are done on many fronts. From household chats to lessons at schools, learning about money brings people together.
We all take a keen interest in financial education because it is a pathway to financial inclusion. The SchoolBank programme is one example. SchoolBank and other outreach by financial institutions, NGOs and government authorities provide a way to contribute to the United Nations sustainable development goals by promoting financial and economic inclusion.
The red thread for banking and financial inclusion is change. The way we teach financial topics like savings is changing. But it's not an era of change but a change of an era. As the digital wave sweeps over banking, financial education and financial inclusion are taking new paths to reach people too. Programmes led by non-profit groups, government bodies and WSBI member savings and retail banks are using today's tools to inform and educate people of all ages on the importance of savings. Many examples spring forth from WSBI members and others.
The root of any outreach and education is the belief that people can change. And through financial education efforts, maybe we help people change a bit for the better – the young and not so young.
But what do savings mean on the ground? In our daily lives? Why should people care?
The answer is simple: from thrift sprouts growth. Savings deposited at locally focused banks are transformed each day into loans for people…people who want to improve their households…people who want to grow their and local business. Savings also form the backbone for microfinance, which breathes life into start-up firms. Financing small businesses and microfinance helps us reach United Nations sustainable development goals. We have here today our dear partners who make this happen, including the European Microfinance Network.
WSBI members see financial inclusion and financial education through a lens that has a global reach. Efforts on both fronts help them meet their pledge to contribute to the World Bank's Universal Financial Access 2020 strategic goal, where WSBI members have made great progress.
Today is part of long tradition of celebrating World Savings Day. Every year since 1924 when it was inaugurated by WSBI, World Savings Day has remained relevant for members who celebrate it in their local areas.
Some 30 countries are actively taking part, including:
Today brings together the world to celebrate World Savings Day. Let our efforts turn to promoting now the virtue of financial education, financial inclusion and the virtue of savings…let it promote the need for saving now. Because in a globally connected world, our future depends on it.