Thought leaders throughout Asia Pacific have been working to develop relationships and solutions to the significant barriers to financial inclusion that remain in the region. The Asia Pacific Financial Inclusion Summit 2017 published the report of their meeting, the second annual meeting to address financial inclusion in a region that has significant disparity in infrastructure development, regulatory environments, and economic opportunities for business, women, and disadvantaged vulnerable communities.
This region has a number of very healthy, sophisticated, and growth-oriented economies, and also a number of countries where political instability has resulted in the loss of economic opportunity and prosperity. A billion people throughout this region are still without access to financial services, including credit, savings, and mobile money solutions.
Challenges include geographic isolation and a lack of regulatory infrastructure that is consistent across the region; there is significant disparity among vulnerable populations in countries that are not actively seeking opportunities for women, those challenged with disabilities, and those who have been displaced from their homes.
But digital solutions may offer a significant impact across the region by providing solutions to identity verification, mobile money and point of sale, low-cost microsavings options, and alternative sources for information used for credit scoring.
Opportunities to offer change in the region include both top-down and bottom-up models. For countries with significant barriers to economic growth due to political instability, civil war or ethnic violence, and other disruptions to the safety and social fabric of a nation, some assistance with regulatory models and infrastructure development may be needed. But for much of the region, a bottom up model may be effective, in which digital tools that allow easy methods of identification, daily money use, credit and savings are put into the hands of those needing inclusion.
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