Submitted by Visa International
WASHINGTON, D.C. - September 17, 2007 - IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and CGAP (the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor), in collaboration with Visa International today begin a global conference called Next Generation Access to Finance: Gaining Scale and Reducing Costs with Technology and Credit Scoring. The conference will highlight technologies used by pioneering organizations in the financial services industry, including microfinance organizations, to reduce costs and reach new customers.
Over 300 delegates from more than 60 countries will hear from industry leaders from around the world as they provide in-depth and critical analysis on technology use and credit reporting to increase access to finance. The event will provide a multisectoral, global view of credit scoring and mobile banking solutions and their potential for financial institutions. It will also enable lenders to assess different products and establish contacts with global providers of cutting-edge technologies attending the conference.
"Mobile phone banking and other emerging applications will revolutionize financial markets in rich and poor countries alike," said Elizabeth Littlefield, CGAP’s Chief Executive Officer. "At long last, the cost reductions and increased reach made possible by such technologies should enable us to serve remote areas and poor people viably, offering services we never dreamt possible a decade ago. However, while customer acceptance is driving spectacular growth in applications like M-PESA in Kenya, or G-Cash in the Philippines, we still have a long way to go in adapting regulations, understanding customer needs, and designing customer-friendly products."
The conference will gather representatives from financial institutions, including microfinance groups and commercial banks interested in using technology and credit reporting in their businesses. Other participants include regulators, representatives from the donor community, and global leaders in financial technology and credit information.
"The lack of credit bureaus and limited use of state-of-the-art lending and delivery technologies are a major stumbling block in making access to credit more widely available in developing countries," said Peer Stein, Head of IFC's Financial Infrastructure and Institution Building unit. "This implies huge untapped opportunities for several emerging market nations, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and the Middle East and North Africa, where access to finance is generally limited, and where microfinance is an important part of the credit economy."
"We're delighted to collaborate in this conference and pleased to be working with others from around the world who are committed to extending access to finance to the unbanked community," said John Elkins, Executive Vice President of Visa International. "We believe that Visa's payment solutions can increase the efficiencies of microfinance institutions, provide a secure way for clients to store and retrieve funds and help bring the unbanked into the formal economy allowing more productive use of capital, increased growth and economic development."
Learn more about the conference at http://www.financelearning.org/ngm2007.
About CGAP and its Technology Program
CGAP (the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor) is a consortium of 33 bilateral and multilateral development agencies and private foundations committed to building financial systems that work for the poor in developing countries. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., and housed at the World Bank, CGAP is a global resource center for the microfinance industry, setting standards, offering technical and advisory services, training, and information on best practices, in addition to providing funding for innovative projects. CGAP’s Technology Program, co-funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, aims to learn how technology can help provide a variety of financial services to poor and excluded people, at large scale and in a viable way, within a regulatory system that encourages their development. For more information, please visit www.cgap.org/technology.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, fosters sustainable economic growth in developing countries by financing private sector investment, mobilizing private capital in local and international financial markets, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. IFC's vision is that poor people have the opportunity to escape poverty and improve their lives. In FY07, IFC committed $8.2 billion and mobilized an additional $3.9 billion through loan participations and structured finance for 299 investments in 69 developing countries. IFC also provided advisory services in 97 countries. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.
Visa operates the world's largest retail electronic payments network providing processing services and payment product platforms. This includes consumer credit, debit, prepaid and commercial payments, which are offered under the Visa, Visa Electron, Interlink and PLUS brands. Visa enjoys unsurpassed acceptance around the world and Visa/PLUS is one of the world's largest global ATM networks, offering cash access in local currency in more than 170 countries. For more information, visit www.corporate.visa.com.
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