Conference on “Promoting Financial Capability and Consumer Protection - A Step Forward Towards Financial Inclusion in Africa”

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From: 08/09/2009
To: 09/09/2009
Location: Accra, Ghana
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Up to 150 stakeholders from the public and the private sector will attend the two-day conference. The key topics will be introduced in presentations and panel discussions and will be further discussed in smaller working groups. The second day will also host a market place of ideas and exhibitions.

Objectives of the Conference

The objectives of the conference are to:

  • Provide a platform for peer-to-peer learning and to discuss whether and how financial inclusion can be strengthened by promoting fi nancial capability and consumer protection;
  • Share and learn from individual country experiences with fi nancial capability and consumer protection efforts: What has worked and what has not worked? How can behavioural change be induced?
  • Provide an opportunity to establish a roadmap for the way forward which defines the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders and come up with ideas for concrete projects.

Key issues to be discussed

The interdependence of fi nancial capability and consumer protection: Financial capability cannot be discussed without recognising the need for consumer protection or even conduct-of-business regulation. In order to protect consumers, the Government has to ensure that consumers have regular reliable information on what services fi nancial institutions offer at which price and what the risk involved is, so that consumers can make well-informed choices.

Also, there needs to be an enforcement mechanism in place that ensures rules are obeyed by all market players. This is often not the case. Therefore, the conference will address the importance of consumer protection by discussing the roles and responsibilities of governments and of individual fi nancial service providers (e.g. banks and insurance companies).

From awareness creation and social marketing to behavioural change: Since increasing fi nancial capability aims at empowering people and changing behaviours, we will discuss how behavioural changes with respect to fi nancial services can be induced.

Different approaches to promoting fi nancial capability: Different stakeholders are conducting different activities in the area of fi nancial capability ranging from marketing initiatives, radio shows and theatre plays to including fi nancial education in high school curricula. The conference will discuss how the different approaches and actors can be brought together, what works and what does not work, and how individual initiatives can be made sustainable. Some key approaches will include:

  • Financial capability training in the school curriculum (primary, secondary and tertiary)
  • Workplace financial education
  • Developing financial capability for the unbanked

The need for responsible fi nance: while regulation sets the framework it is up to the individual fi nancial services provider to implement responsible financial practices. The fair and transparent treatment of customers is not always ensured and the lack of fi nancial capability is still being exploited. The providers of financial services need to understand that they stand to gain themselves from an informed customer decision. We will discuss examples of responsible finance and what role we can play in putting them into common practice.

The development of national frameworks: Some countries are in the process of developing a national strategy on consumer education and fi nancial capability, others have developed one already. These strategies can aim at including financial capability into schools, educating the public on fi nancial capability, and designing training programmes for fi nancial service providers. We will discuss
the benefits and challenges in creating such joint (national) frameworks.