The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), in its year-end report on financial inclusion efforts, has remained “steadfast” in its pursuit of financial inclusion.

Specifically, the report showed a more focused effort last year on policy and regulation, financial education and consumer protection, and finally on data and measurement as well as advocacy programs.

The 2015 initiatives “bring us closer to our goals,” according to the BSP.

Past efforts have already been recognized by the Economist Intelligence Unit which noted that the Philippines is the first country in Asia, and third in the world, with the most conducive environment for financial inclusion.

“Yet, more focused work needs to be done by the BSP as well as public and private sector stakeholders to fully realize financial inclusion objectives,” said the BSP.

“In 2015, the BSP focused on organizing greater public and private sector collaboration in financial inclusion thru the National Strategy for Financial Inclusion (NSFI),” said the BSP in the report. The launch of the strategy was attended by Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands in her capacity as the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development.

The BSP said it has also began to enhance financial inclusion levels by improving digital infrastructures and innovations that can be supported by a National Retail Payment System (NRPS, basically to promote a “cash lite” economy) and to improve financial inclusion data and measurement thru the National Baseline Survey on Financial Inclusion, in order to support evidence-based policymaking and program implementation.

“These initiatives build on, and complement existing ones in order to establish a truly inclusive financial system that provides all Filipinos with responsive and responsible financial services that fit their needs,” said the BSP.

In the report, it highlighted the NSFI which was launched in July 1, 2015 as it marked what the BSP said was the “beginning of a collective journey toward increased access to effective financial products and services for all Filipinos.”

The central bank also noted some “notable private sector interest” in the NSFI. “The BSP has entertained several meetings focused on the NSFI in past months,” it said. “(They) expressed support to the NSFI implementation by aligning their initiatives with the strategy. There were also expressions of intent to be included in the NSFI process.”

To date, barely a year into the process, the BSP said the NSFI interagency is still working on the institutionalization of the inter-agency steering committee, and the NSFI working groups will finalize a “harmonized and unified tactical plan” and develop a “comprehensive implementing mechanism through a communication plan and adequate measurement and monitoring framework.”



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