Luxembourg/Kuala Lumpur (5 October 2020) – The Alliance of Financial Inclusion (AFI) has launched its Europe Representative Office (ERO) in the City of Luxembourg, the first office in Europe for the world’s leading organization on financial inclusion policy and regulation.
Strategically positioned to enable the expansion of AFI’s activities in Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia, but also Africa and Latin American and the Caribbean regions, the ERO provides unique added value both to AFI’s diverse membership of central banks, finance ministries and other financial regulators, as well as to Luxembourg’s expansive financial inclusion ecosystem and that of the broader European community.
“Our partners in Luxembourg and our organization recognized each other for agility, efficiency but also adaptability with today’s event taking place in both physical and virtual space, during the global pandemic and circumstances unlike ever before. Our work on financial policy and regulation is reinforced through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) lens by incorporating considerations on inclusive green finance and gender inclusive finance. Being welcomed in Europe, in an open and diverse community such is the one in Luxembourg presents a great opportunity for all involved, regulators from developing and developed countries to learn from one another, systematically cooperate and ensure an economic recovery that is equitable, inclusive and green,” said AFI Executive Director Dr. Alfred Hannig.
Co-hosted by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the AFI ERO’s official launch ceremony was conducted virtually on 5 October 2020 due to ongoing COVID-19 health crisis. More than 200 participants from over 50 countries followed the event live on several platforms, including AFI’s social media channels on Facebook and YouTube.
Minister of Finance Pierre Gramegna and Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs Franz Fayot welcomed the establishment of a systemic AFI presence in Europe as means of deepening existing knowledge exchange and cooperation among financial regulators in developing and developed countries.
“It is with great pleasure that Luxembourg welcomes the opening of AFI’s European Representative Office. This new office will further strengthen Luxembourg’s financial ecosystem and, above all, enable broader cooperation with all major stakeholders at the European and international level in the field of FinTech and green finance. In an increasingly connected world, only the constant exchange between regulators from different markets will allow us to effectively build a more sustainable and innovative finance that is accessible to all,” said Minister of Finance Pierre Gramegna.
Franz Fayot, Luxembourg Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs added: “Cooperation means exchange of knowledge, expertise and best practices. In that sense, engaging with the broader regulation community is crucial to promote true responsible and sustainable inclusive finance. Microfinance needs prudential norms different from those suitable for commercial banking and consumer finance. The important question is not whether to regulate, but how to regulate. In that sense, we look forward to an even closer relationship with AFI and its members over the years to come.”
The ERO will bring tailored services and products to AFI’s existing and potential membership in the region and enhance ties with its Europe-based stakeholders. The new office also aims to grow new and promising strategic partnerships and strengthen AFI’s strategic communications, advocacy, and representational contribution towards reshaping the global policy architecture for financial inclusion.
“Financial inclusion is one of the few immediate solutions available to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 and build recovery and resilience, making cooperation more important today than at any time in the past,” AFI Executive Director Dr. Alfred Hannig highlighted.
The launch ceremony was followed by the high – level roundtable on converging topics in financial policy and regulation. Discussions were focusing on emerging opportunities and risks of digital financial services to ensure truly inclusive and sustainable economic recovery as the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic. Financial inclusion needs of the most vulnerable populations, women and girls, forcibly displaced persons (FDPs), youth, and those impacted by climate change are emphasized.
Franz Fayot, Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs
Dr. Retselisitsoe Matlanyane, Governor, Central Bank of Lesotho
Claude Marx, Director General, Commission de surveillance du secteur financier (CSSF)
Dr. Margarita Hernández, Superintendenta, Superintendencia de la Economía Popular y Solid aria de Ecuador (SEPS)
Dr. Alfred Hannig, AFI Executive Director
Moderator: Prof. Dr. Dirk Andreas Zetzsche, University of Luxembourg
After the launch events, the Government of Luxembourg and AFI will co-host a virtual high-level joint learning program on inclusive financial technology ecosystems and cybersecurity for the heads of AFI member institutions. The JLP, held on 6-8 October 2020 in cooperation with the University of Luxembourg, will guide the leaders in making better informed decisions on designing an effective fintech ecosystem, developing or enhancing their national cybersecurity frameworks, and advancing inclusive green finance policies and regulations.
About Luxembourg Ministry of Finance and AFI
Ministry of Finance of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg signed a letter of understanding (LOU) with AFI on 6 September 2019 and launched a new multi-donor collaboration framework that will help bolster financial inclusion across the African continent.
Through AFI’s Multi-Donor Financial Inclusion Policy Implementation Facility (“MD-PIF”), AFI and Luxembourg are helping develop and implement policies in Africa at national and regional level that foster financial inclusion with a focus on gender equality, including digital financial innovation and FinTech, Financial Education and SME Finance. Apart from the Luxembourg Ministry of Finance, AFI’s MD-PIF also includes French Development Agency (AFD) and the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
The Grand Duchy has been actively engaged in the microfinance industry since the early 1990s. Today, Luxembourg is a global leader in inclusive finance and hosts more than half of the market share of global assets under management in Microfinance Investment Vehicles (MIVs).
AFI is the world’s leading organization on financial inclusion policy and regulation. Roughly 100 member institutions make up the AFI network including central banks, ministries of finance and other financial regulators from 90 developing and emerging countries. AFI works on empowering policymakers to increase access and usage of quality financial services for the underserved through formulation, implementation and global advocacy of sustainable and inclusive policies.
Press release by the Ministry of Finance/ Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs/ Directorate for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs/ Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI)