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Opinions & Interviews

16 Jan 2014

Hannig: Level of financial inclusion in Belarus is very high

Hannig: Level of financial inclusion in Belarus is very high

MINSK, 16 January (BelTA) - The level of financial inclusion in Belarus is very high, Executive Director of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) Mr Alfred Hannig told reporters in Minsk, BelTA learned.

Belarus was the AFI’s first member from Eastern Europe. It is a regional leader in the study of such matters as the measurement of financial inclusion and improvement of financial literacy of its citizens. The experience of Belarus in this area could be useful to other AFI members. About 85% of the population has access to at least one of the banking services, Mr Alfred Hannig said.

However, he noted, the country needs to make efforts to further improve financial literacy and consumer protection. With regard to the quality of service delivery, there is still a room for improvement, said Mr Alfred Hannig.

The National Bank of Belarus, other public authorities and financial market participants have devised a plan of joint actions to improve the financial literacy of the population 2013-2018. The joint project of the National Bank and the Alliance for Financial Inclusion "Assessment of the access to finance: development of sound policy of access to finance in Belarus" was completed last year. The data obtained during the project can be used to define a strategy in this area in the future, said Alfred Hannig.

The AFI Executive Director Alfred Hannig came to Belarus to discuss the expansion of bilateral cooperation and to review the preparations for the upcoming meeting of the AFI working group on consumer rights and behavior due in Minsk in March this year. The meeting of the working group in Belarus has become a kind of recognition of the significant progress made by the National Bank in improving access to finance, including the protection of consumers of financial services, and its active work in addressing these issues.

At present, the National Bank is developing a proposal for a new AFI grant "Promotion of regional cooperation in the area of access to finance in Eastern Europe and the CIS". The new grant will be used to finish the five-year state program to improve access to finance, to conduct a national study on the use of financial services by individuals, and also to organize a regional forum on access to finance for Central and Eastern Europe and the CIS countries.

The AFI is led by its members and partners, central banks and other financial regulatory institutions from developing countries. AFI’s unique peer-to-peer learning model encourages and enables financial policymakers to interact and exchange knowledge. This information interchange results in the building of a more comprehensive knowledge base on financial inclusion and the subsequent formulation and implementation of effective policy by members in their home countries.

Currently the AFI unites 14 organizations from 93 countries. The Republic of Belarus in the person of the National Bank joined the AFI in May 2010.

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