31st May 2017

Opening Remarks by Chairman of the Pacific Islands Regional Initiative (PIRI) at the opening of the 3rd PIRI High Level Conference on Digital Financial Services in the face of De-Risking, Kokopo, PNG, May 31 – June 1, 2017

Salutation:

Sir Rabbie Namaliu
Deputy Executive Director of AFI, Mr Nobert Mumba
Colleague Governors and Deputy Governors
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

Introduction

It is my pleasure, as Chair of PIRI, to welcome you all to this 3rd PIRI High Level Meeting here at beautiful Kokopo, East New Britain Province.  I would like to especially welcome the Central Bank of Seychelles, Deputy Governor Jennifer Sullivan and your team, to the PIRI meeting.

Let me also thank the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) through the Deputy Executive Director, Mr Mumba and the Bank of PNG through Governor Loi for bringing us here to this beautiful setting of Kokopo.

I remember last year in Port Vila, when Governor Loi offered to host the first PIRI meeting in 2017, he deliberately decided that it will be outside of Port Moresby.  His reason is Port Moresby is not PNG.  You have to go out to the provinces to see the real PNG.  And now I can understand why he chose Kokopo out of many other provincial places we could go to.

The environment here is so beautiful and breath-taking, that I believe it will have a positive impact on the outcomes of our meeting and enable us to further expand our work on financial inclusion in the region.

Since our meeting at Denarau, Fiji, last September, I believe we have progressed in our efforts to expand and deepen financial inclusion in our region, either through implementations of our National Financial Inclusion strategies or through other activities. Of course, some of the issues we have committed ourselves to address will take longer to address.  We will continue to work on these issues and they will continue to appear in our agenda until they are addressed.

I am sure we will hear some updates on these issues during the next two days.

Theme

Distinguished colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, our theme for this PIRI meeting is ‘Digital Financial Services in the face of De-Risking’.  The theme is very appropriate because a lot of our countries in the region are grappling with the issue of de-risking, especially the closure of corresponding banking relationships.  It is an issue of concern to central banks in the region and other parts of the world.  In our region it has become a developmental financing issue and we need to find solutions to the problem.

You will all agree with me that the increasing usage of financial technology such as digital financial services offers potential solutions to this problem.  So it is very timely that we are discussing these areas during this meeting.  Hopefully during our discussions in the next two days we can come up with workable options and solutions to the problem.

Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, it is a fact that financial technology is moving ahead very fast.  It is driving digital financial services, a major characteristic of the digital economy.  The world too is moving in that direction, and we can’t afford not to follow suit. We must therefore work even harder to address the issue of de-risking and explore financial technology as possible solutions.

My colleague governors would remember our meetings in Washington last month at the IMF/WB Spring meetings with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and US Treasury officials where we raised the issue of de-risking.

New innovations are being considered to resolve the de-risking issue. For example, for those in the know, blockchain technology that is used in cryptocurrency could be a platform to extend financial inclusion and maybe find solutions for de-risking.

Finally, let me reiterate, we must find a solution to mitigate de-risking as it is now a risk in itself to our financial inclusion efforts.

With these few words, ladies and gentlemen, once again, welcome one and all, and I hope we will have a fruitful two days of discussions.

Thank you very much.

Denton Rarawa

 

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