Through its Consumer Protection and Regulatory Engagement peer group, the PRFI works to build relationships with receptive regulators with the goal of advancing the creation of enabling national environments for financial inclusion. We believe an enabling environment is one that advances the delivery of responsible financial services while allowing practitioners to sustainably operate. As a coalition, the PRFI uses a two-pronged engagement approach. First, we proactively work in partnerships at the local level to create opportunities for dialogue between regulators and practitioners. For example, in early 2017, the PRFI, in partnership with Association of Microfinance Institutions of Uganda and the Smart Campaign hosted a discussion with local regulators and practitioners around consumer protection. Additionally, in 2015, the Secretariat worked with legal teams from Accion and New Perimeter, DLA Piper’s global pro bono initiative, as well as the Smart Campaign, to develop the Model Legal Framework for Financial Consumer Protection (MLF).
Our second approach is responsive. We seek opportunities to provide feedback and comments, as needed, to support local partners. In many cases, this involves the provision of feedback on government initiatives like national financial inclusion strategies. At times, we organize responses when harmful regulations, such as interest rate caps (IRC) are proposed. In these situations, the PRFI works with affected members and other partners, to provide comments to regulators. This was the case in March 2016 when the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) put forward proposed interest rate cap regulations. The PRFI worked with a community of partners to encourage the CBN to consider implementing consumer protection regulation rather than IRC.
A selected list of our achievements includes:
- Disseminating the MLF to more than 560 financial inclusion stakeholders worldwide, including more than 200 regulators and bank supervisors since 2015.
- Participating in 12 events across seven countries, training more than 270 financial inclusion stakeholders, including more than 100 regulators and bank supervisors, on the MLF and the Smart Campaign’s underlying Client Protection Principles in 2016.
- Participating in the community of global financial inclusion organizations and local partners that successfully provided comments on the Central Bank of Nigeria’s proposed interested cap regulations in 2016.
- Participating in the comment period established for Uganda’s draft national financial inclusion strategy.
Through its members, the PRFI represents a distinct voice of practitioners committed to responsibly meeting the needs of clients as they aspire to broaden access to financial services for unserved or underserved populations. We recognize that regulators have the immense task of managing for prudential/system-wide risks and also have the responsibility of fostering the necessary protection for citizens within their nations. We believe it is imperative to engage with supervisors and officials to support regulations that:
- champion the growth of small and mid-size financial institutions able to be competitive in the market;
- create rules that support access to financial services through digital technologies;
- advance stronger consumer protection laws that contribute to financial inclusion and strengthen healthy financial institutions.