Nardos Berehe (Ethiopia)
A Look into the G20 High-Level Principles for Digital Financial Inclusion
The Group of Twenty (G20), an intergovernmental forum comprising 19 countries and the European Union, via the GPFI, and the OECD has played a key role in supporting and elevating the importance of financial inclusion, financial consumer protection, and financial literacy in the international arena. The G20 is also committed to further helping low income developing countries (LIDCs) to take action to advance digital financial inclusion in the spirit of the 2030 agenda.
In 2016, under China’s G20 Presidency, the GPFI endorsed the G20 High-Level Principles for Digital Financial Inclusion. This set of eight principles could be viewed as a prerequisite for promoting financial inclusion in a digital environment. In accordance with the priorities of the Indonesia G20 Presidency in 2022 to promote effective implementation of these High-Level Principles, the implementation guide has been developed. It aims to provide good practices that could prove very useful for both G20 and non-G20 countries in their path towards greater digital financial inclusion. The Guide, which focuses on HLPs no. 1 to 6, serves a dual purpose of guidance and assessment. Simply put, the 2016 High-Level Principles for Digital Financial Inclusion builds on that success by providing a basis for country action plans reflecting country context and national circumstances to leverage the huge potential offered by digital technologies.
Several obstacles must be overcome for HLP to be implemented in the respective nations. Digital financial inclusion has been growing over time, although several G20 nations have lagged behind on various fronts due to sociocultural barriers, gender discrepancies in access, literacy levels, and cost factors. According to the World Bank’s Global Findex Survey 2021, the account ownership rate is above 80% for 13 countries, of which only four are emerging markets. The G20 advanced economies also have over 80% of individuals using digital payments. Of the G20 emerging markets, only the Russian Federation, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and South Africa have over 80% of individuals using digital payments. The remaining G20 emerging markets are behind. Moving from access to usage of accounts is the next step for countries where 80% or more of the population have accounts (China, Kenya, India, Thailand) as these countries relied on reforms, private sector innovation, and a push to open low-cost accounts, including mobile and digitally enabled payments.
The G20 Principles for Innovative Financial Inclusion remain significant as initial efforts and policy actions, but it is crucial that countries state principles for promoting targeted approaches to improving the DFL of underprivileged groups, such as women, rural residents, and small firms, instead of a one-size-fits-all approach. The G20 should encourage national policies and strategies that promote access to and usage of alternative digital financing opportunities and continue to support countries to upgrade their national financial inclusion strategies to include aspects related to digital financial inclusion and to consider issues that are particularly relevant to women.