World Bank, WSBI form strategic partnership to achieve Universal Financial Access Goal

​Left to right: Chris De Noose, Managing Director, WSBI; Jin-Yong Cai, IFC; WSBI President Heinrich Hassis 

​​​​WASHINGTON, D.C., 23 September 2015 – The World Savings and Retail Banking Institute (WSBI) and the World Bank agreed today to forge a deeper commitment to the World Bank Group's strategic goal of Universal Financial Access (UFA) by 2020.

The two bodies signed a Memorandum of Understanding​ in Washington to form a strategic partnership, the first ever between them. Together, they aim to identify and thereafter facilitate or implement joint actions involving WSBI member banks in support of the 2020 goal.

Actions taken jointly by the two parties will address issues at both global and country level, including needed legal or regulatory reforms, financial technology investments, stakeholder dialogues, advisory services, innovation support for incubator work, as well as field and market fit testing. Initital priority will go to WSBI members who represent 17 of the 25 countries the World Bank has identified as 'focus countries', containing 70 per cent world's unbanked. WSBI members in other countries could be added by mutual agreement.

WSBI pledges numerical commitments

Meantime, WSBI and its members announced its aim to reach 1.7 billion customers and 400 million new transaction accounts by the end of 2020, based on the current membership. This numeric commitment reinforces WSBI's continued engagement with its 'Account for Everyone' goal announced by the trade body in 2012, which it re-endorsed earlier this year at the World Bank spring meetings. As at year-end 2014, members served a baseline total of 1.3 billion customers, which includes providing accounts for the poor worldwide.

"WSBI members, many of whom are IFC clients, play a critical role in providing savings accounts and other financial services to low-income individuals," said Jin-Yong Cai, Executive Vice President and CEO of the International Finance Corporation. "By expanding their outreach, these institutions will create millions of new accounts and provide fresh opportunities for unbanked consumers around the world."

WSBI President Heinrich Hassis said: "WSBI recognises that achieving universal financial access by 2020 requires a collective effort. We are honoured to be part of the initial Coalition of Partners who have been invited to contribute to this global cause.

"WSBI will leverage its broad outreach in some 80 countries worldwide, harnessing opportunities offered by new technologies to deliver  an  accessible, affordable and quality product and service offer that meet the needs of underserved and unbanked while boosting financial access and usage."


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>> See German version of this press release on German Savings Bank Association website​


Notes to editor:

About WSBI – The Global Voice of Savings and Retail Banking

WSBI represents the interests of 6,000 savings and retail banks globally, with total assets of $14tn and serving one billion customers in nearly 80 countries (as of 2014). WSBI focuses on international regulatory issues that affect the savings and retail banking industry. It supports the aims of the G20 in achieving sustainable, inclusive, and balanced growth, and job creation, whether in industrialised or less developed countries. WSBI favours an inclusive form of globalization that is just and fair, supporting international efforts to advance financial access and financial usage for everyone.

About the World Bank Group

The World Bank Group (WBG) is one of the world's largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries. It comprises five closely associated institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA), which together form the World Bank; the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Bank's private sector arm; the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA); and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Each institution plays a distinct role in the mission to fight poverty and improve living standards for people in the developing world. For more information, please visit www.worldbank.org, www.miga.org, and www.ifc.org.

​The Universal Financial Access 2020 goal

The UFA 2020 goal is for adults globally to have access to an account or electronic instrument to store money, send and receive payments as the basic building block to manage their financial lives by the year 2020. The UFA goal is defined as defined as universal ownership of a store-of-value transaction account. Access to a transaction account is a stepping stone to financial inclusion, which includes a range of formal financial services like savings and transaction accounts, but also insurance and credit.

Achieving universal financial access by 2020 is a collective effort. The World Bank Group aims to contribute to delivering accounts to reach as many as 1 billion currently unbanked people with access to a transaction account. This effort is primarily led by the World Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC), with further support from MIGA as well.

ends / all

Corporate Social Responsibility; Financial inclusion; Sustainable development; Access to Finance; Banking Technology; Digitalisation; Doubling savings accounts; Innovation; Proximity