Published by Sharlene Brown and Amélie Desrosiers
Since its inception in 2011, the Partnership for Responsible Financial Inclusion (PRFI), formerly the Microfinance CEO Working Group, has been focused on accelerating responsible financial inclusion. In part, PRFI has done this by supporting Smart Campaign’s efforts to make certification a standard for the marketplace, since 2013 when the CEOs publicly endorsed it. Smart Certification is a recognition achieved by an institution that meets the independent and objective certification standards, that identifies it as a practitioner that is intentionally operating with a mission to treat its clients respectfully and protect them from harm.
Since the launch in 2013, certifications have grown significantly and on May 15, 2018 the Smart Campaign announced that 100 financial service providers (FSPs) have attained Smart Certification. In its press release statement, the Campaign celebrated this success calling it a “landmark achievement in responsible financial inclusion.”
The PRFI has played a crucial role in that achievement. Campaign Director, Isabelle Barrès, echoed that sentiment, “We are proud to announce that PRFI member organization partners comprise 51 of the 100 certifications. The collective impact of those certifications means that together, the PRFI, has elevated the standard of treatment and protection for more than 29 million clients—representing 71% of clients under certified institutions.”
Barrès remains optimistic about future progress, "Reaching this milestone and seeing the continued interest for certification from a wide range of providers – including fintech startups – is very encouraging. It demonstrates that protecting consumers and building trust maximizes benefits for both the client and the companies that serve them."
PRFI has begun analyzing the universe of certified FSPs to better understand elements that correlate with institutions getting through the certification process successfully. We will also continue to support research that gives greater voice to the business case for strong client-orientation and encourage local partners to support this market standard.