The Bank of Papua New Guinea and the Alliance for Financial Inclusion hosted the 2nd Pacific Islands Regional Initiative (PIRI) in Kokopo, East New Britain Province on 30th May to 1st June 2017.The three day meeting brought participants from all over the Pacific Region including members from Timor-Leste and Seychelles, a small island nation in the Indian Ocean off East Africa.
An Experts Group Financial Inclusion Policy (EGFIP) started the PIRI meeting on the 30th of May with discussions on policy topic priorities and technical topics on forcibly displaced persons, climate change/Green finance, Consumer Protection and Financial literacy.
This was followed by seven discussion sessions centred on the theme “Digital Financial Services in the face of De-Risking” over the next two days.
Session one was on Digital Financial Services (DFS) as an effective means of enhancing financial inclusion in the Pacific region. Discussions focused on the challenging geography and poor infrastructures of many Pacific nations’ making DFS a particularly effective means of enhancing financial inclusion in the region.
There were also discussions on De-Risking in the Pacific which has seen progressive tightening of international standards in combating money laundering and terrorist financing in the past few years and has led to extensive enhancement of anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing (AML/CFT) controls including customer due diligence processes.
There was also a session on Green Finance and Financial Inclusion on Climate change-induced natural disasters affecting an estimated 230 million people worldwide. The poor and marginalized are the most vulnerable to climate change and discussions emphasized on how climate change limits the ability of these people to create and maintain sustainable livelihoods.
National Financial Inclusion Strategies was another session of discussion highlighting the growing number of national financial inclusion strategies across all regions and the influence of knowledge and peer learning on strategy development.
Session 5 was on Women Empowerment in the Pacific. At the 2016 Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) Global Policy Forum (GPF) in Nadi, Fiji, members of AFI endorsed the Denarau Action Plan with the commitment to close the gender gap in financial inclusion. This plan seeks to assist regulators in identifying gender specific policy gaps and addressing them with innovative smart policy solutions.
Enhancing MSME’s access in the Pacific was the last session of the meeting. This session provided an analysis of the role of technology in enhancing MSMEs.
Session seven was the Leaders Roundtable with the announcement of Samoa to host the 3rd PIRI meeting with the beating of the PIRI gong to officially close the 2017 PIRI meeting in Kokopo.