He called on the group to be flexible in their deliberations and ensure current and envisaged bottlenecks are highlighted, to minimize impediments to effective implementation of the digital financial services strategy.
The DFS Working Group is one of six working groups under the National Strategy for Financial Inclusion 2017 – 2020, recently validated by stakeholders at a seminar organised by the Bank.
The group will provide an appropriate forum for industry-level dialogue for DFS stakeholders, including, government, mobile network operators, banks, microfinance institutions etc.
The engagement of stakeholders is expected to facilitate discussions about promoting and maximizing the benefits of digital financial services as a tool for inclusive growth. The group will identify constraints and opportunities to the deployment of scalable DFS in Sierra Leone. They will focus on collaboration among the different players for delivering financial service in a transparent, fair and safe manner, and advocate for support from government for DFS-related initiatives as well as assist in the framing of progressive DFS regulations and financial inclusion policies.
As their efforts and contributions take a foothold in the financial service sector they will also lead efforts aimed at supporting the development of innovative models for widening the outreach of formal financial services by serving as a platform for generating and sharing knowledge.
Speaking on behalf of the Sierra Leone Association of Commercial Banks, the Executive Secretary, Shola Taylor-Pearce said the only way the sector can jointly address the 87% exclusion of Sierra Leoneans from financial services is by ensuring that everyone is a winner in DFS.
Other speakers at the inaugural meeting include all the members of the DFS Working Group. The membership of the group includes other regulators such as NATCOM; representatives from the Commercial Banks, Microfinance Institutions, Mobile Network Operators, and Apex Banks. The Membership also consists of representation from the recently constituted Sierra Leone FinTech Association as well as the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) representative for the West Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Programmes, who serves as the resident technical advisor to BSL. Ministry of Finance & Economic Development (MoFED) was also represented through their Better Than Cash Alliance focal point at MoFED.
The members agree that there was a critical need for open platforms upon which to build new and innovative services into the broader regulatory frameworks for financial inclusion such as nano-credit, ‘osusu’, and village credit schemes. In addition, they noted that digital financial service provide unprecedented data trail for better credit profiles. All stakeholders agreed that collaboration along with a dynamic and pragmatic approach was key to the DFS Working Group’s success.