MIL OSI – Source: German Ministry of Finance – in English –
Headline: German finance minister Schäuble and HM Queen Máxima to promote financial inclusion
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble met with HM Queen Máxima of the Netherlands in her capacity as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA) and honorary patron of the G20’s Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI) in Berlin on 14 December 2016.
Minister Schäuble and Queen Máxima discussed the question of how to advance financial inclusion. Financial inclusion is one of the priorities of the German G20 presidency in 2017.
Queen Máxima participated in a bilateral meeting, internal expert talks and a round-table discussion on the issue of financial inclusion with experts from the Finance Ministry, the Development Ministry, Deutsche Bundesbank and other institutions.
Minister Schäuble said:
Queen Máxima shared some interesting ideas on how to promote affordable and safe financial services to advance financial inclusion. One of our main priorities during the German G20 presidency is to improve access to and usage of financial services all over the world. Without access to adequate forms of financing economic development is difficult. We are especially keen to promote access to financing for small and medium-sized enterprises as part of our plans for investment partnerships with Africa. And we are committed to improve the conditions for remittances by making them safer and cheaper.
Queen Máxima congratulated minister Schäuble on the German leadership and Germany’s contribution to the financial inclusion agenda over the years. “Given the strengths of Germany in the financial sector and in supporting financial inclusion globally through its different agencies, it has opportunity to amplify the financial inclusion and prepare a multi-year, implementation and results-oriented agenda under its G20 presidency through GPFI” said Queen Máxima. “It is important for the GPFI to focus on implementation and to maintain the strong link between the GPFI and the G20. The GPFI should focus on those areas where it can increase impact as well as on the potential of technology in advancing financial inclusion, in particular for small and medium-sized enterprises.”
Queen Máxima and minister Schäuble agreed on the importance of Germany preparing the ground for Argentina’s G20 presidency in 2018.
The German government launched a G20 priorities paper on financial inclusion as part of the G20 process today (www.bmz.de/GPFI). These priorities include measures to foster the financing of small and medium-sized enterprises and to improve the environment for remittances. The paper also outlines measures to advance financial inclusion in the digital field, to include vulnerable groups in this process and to support financial literacy.
The German presidency will also take stock of alternative forms of finance for SME financing in Africa as the traditional financing environment for SMEs is little developed in many African countries. In addition to that we will develop and promote best practices for the development of the financial sector, including instruments for efficient risk mitigation, infrastructure and SME financing, which will be presented at the G20 Africa Conference in June 2017.
These and other issues were discussed in depth during the high-level round-table discussion which was attended by Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Finance Jens Spahn and Vice-President of Deutsche Bundesbank Professor Claudia Buch.
Parliamentary State Secretary Spahn stressed the role that digital financial innovation can play in enhancing global financial inclusion: “I am convinced that digital innovation in the financial sector will lead to greater and cheaper access to financial services and thus increase financial inclusion. The smart phone can bring banking to places where there is probably never going to be a branch. FinTechs from G20 countries going abroad and offering their solutions in the developing world and emerging markets create a win-win situation.”
Professor Buch highlighted the role that financial education and literacy play as prerequisites for financial inclusion: “Financial literacy has an important impact on economic decisions, with broad implications for individuals, the financial system and finally the real economy. Risks and costs of insufficient financial literacy should not be underestimated. In fact, financial stability starts at the individual level with informed financial decision-making, while regulatory and macroprudential policy measures can only serve as the ultimate backstop mechanisms.”
The issue of financial inclusion will be further discussed at the G20 Conference on Digitalization organized by Deutsche Bundesbank on 25 and 26 January in Frankfurt am Main.