President Jair Bolsonaro assumed Brazil’s highest political office on January 1, 2019. From mid-2016 to the end of 2018, a team of experts worked diligently to improve Brazil’s integration with the global economy in such areas as relations with international organizations, domestic framework for officially supported export credits and trade policy. Their initiatives provide the new administration with a strong path to prosperity through reduction of lingering barriers to international inclusion.
For the 28 jurisdictions that are members of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, adopting Basel banking standards is a given. But why are some non-member developing countries embracing the reforms when they don’t have to? The answers vary by country, but the final lesson is that regulators should carefully evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of adopting Basel regulations in whole or in part for their nation’s unique situation.
You could be excused for thinking that financial inclusion is a given. In reality, however, this is far from the truth. As illustrated by a recent report by the World Bank, 1.7 billion adults across the world are ‘unbanked’, meaning they do not possess a bank account or have access to formal finance. This situation is not confined to just one part of the world. Whether you live in a developed country or developing region, the unbanked can be found. For example, just 14 percent of adults in the Middle East hold a bank account.
Digitalization has become second nature to many banks around the world, but not all. In the Central European country of Hungary, many banks—and their customers, who are relatively uninformed of the ways going digital can enhance their personal financial management—are in the early stages of the digital banking voyage. The time has arrived for Hungarian banks to jump into the present, or remain behind in the past.
It is true that one person can make a difference, for good or ill, for an entire nation; such was the case in Zimbabwe, once touted as the “breadbasket of Africa”, but after 30 plus years under the iron grip of President Robert Mugabe more aptly known as its economic basket case. There is renewed hope with President Emmerson Mnangagwa installed—but how much can one man do?
Imagine you’re one of the nearly 40 million Tanzanians who live in a rural community. It would most likely take a day of your time and a considerable portion of your earnings just to travel to the nearest brick-and-mortar financial institution.
Many banks have given up the fight and are working to get along with those fintech upstarts, but not regarding one area in particular: top-notch tech talent. When it comes to tech staff, the gloves are off, and banks are fighting to both recruit and hold on to the cream of the crop, recognizing how indispensable experienced professionals have become in the digital world.
It’s not news that many economies of the developing world face barriers to financial inclusion, making it difficult for citizens to both borrow and save; but the good news is that help has arrived in the linking of mobile payments with remittances. From sub-Saharan Africa to Latin America and the Caribbean, mobile money is bringing the previously underbanked into the fold.
It makes good economic sense that when people work toward their own economic benefit, the economy, and society, as a whole benefits—but do these profitable conditions benefit all members of society, or are some left out? Today, fintech challengers are accomplishing what traditional banks have failed to fully achieve—providing fair and open access to basic financial services for all of the world’s citizens.
Monetary Policy Dilemma in Latin America and the Caribbean: To Raise or Not to Raise Policy Interest Rates
As economic conditions return to “normal” in the industrial world, policy interest rates will inevitably rise from zero to “normal”—but not necessarily in Latin America and the Caribbean. Central banks in LAC will need to tailor their monetary-policy decisions to tackle the three-pronged challenge of currency depreciation, higher inflation and deceleration in economic activity, as capital flies away from emerging markets.