ITU publishes policy recommendations on Digital Financial Services

GENEVA– After two years of extensive consultation, the ITU Focus Group on Digital Financial Services (DFS) has concluded its work with the publication of 85 policy recommendations and 28 supporting thematic reports. The Focus Group brought together more than 60 organisations from over 30 countries to drive greater financial inclusion for the estimated 2 billion people around the world who remain unbanked.

Commenting on the success of the Focus Group, ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao said: “Governments around the world face many similar challenges in their efforts to deliver fully integrated digital financial services. Until now solutions have largely been developed in isolation. This is the first time an organisation has sought to develop a comprehensive set of practical and integrated guidelines drawing on expertise from across the financial service and telecommunication/ICT sectors.”

He adds: “By reviewing and assessing international best practices we have developed a practical toolkit that can be adapted to local needs. We hope it will help drive greater access and opportunity through the delivery of more affordable, accessible, secure, transparent and robust digital financial services for consumers and merchants in emerging markets.”

The 85 policy recommendations offer guidance in areas such as digital liquidity, consumer protection to enhance DFS usage, data privacy, digital identity and e-KYC (Know Your Customer), as well as interoperability and fair access to the communication channel. Some of its core suggestions include:Policymakers and regulators should support the growth of an open ecosystem for DFS that promotes innovation and ensures robust competition;Regulators should standardise definitions of fraud types and require standardised, electronic and timely fraud reporting from providers;Access criteria for interoperability schemes should be clear, objective, publicly disclosed and allow new participants, banks and authorised /regulated non-banks to join;Policymakers should promote initiatives and incentives that encourage merchants and other payment acceptors (e.g. utilities, farmers, government entities ) to accept electronic payments;Regulators should standardise digital identity registration, and ensure interoperability between DFS operators and service providers relying on digital identity and DFS operators should build in customer privacy measures, compliant with current or anticipated national legislation .

Sacha Polverini, Chairman of the Focus Group, said: “While the work of the Focus Group is complete, we now need to move from theory to implementation. The work we have done has resulted in a set of very operational policy recommendations. Their value will be dependent on their systematic application in markets that need guidance and support. We are now reviewing the opportunity to progress a new global initiative which we hope to announce in April 2017.”

Source: Emirates News Agency