Using ICTs to bridge the financial inclusion gap

ITU Member States have approved a new resolution bolstering ITU’s mandate to work on matters related to digital financial inclusion. 

Two billion adults worldwide do not have a bank account, but among them, 1.6 billion have a mobile phone. 

Developing countries are capitalizing on the widespread use of mobile phones and information and communication technologies (ICTs) to bring all people within reach of financial services and out of poverty. 

Digital financial services show great potential to give previously ‘unbanked’ people the ability to save, make payments and access credit and insurance — allowing them to manage an irregular income stream, plan for the future, recover from economic shocks and natural disasters and find new ways to earn a living. 

As such, efforts towards digital financial inclusion are contributing towards the achievement of United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 1, which is poverty eradication. 

In the new resolution, Member States resolved that ITU will: continue studying the topic of digital financial services in order to increase the financial inclusion in developing countries; encourage collaboration between telecommunication regulators and financial services authorities to develop and implement standards and guidelines; and encourage the use of innovative digital tools and technologies, as appropriate, to advance financial inclusion. 

The Resolution also invites Member States to develop and implement national strategies to address financial inclusion as a matter of priority and to encourage new regional initiatives on the issue. 

Backgrounder, video and motion graphic about digital financial inclusion.

Interviews with next top elected officials: Houlin Zhao

"ITU’s history is long, but its spirit is young," says Houlin Zhao of China, who was re-elected at PP-18 as ITU's Secretary-General for the next four years. “I see more industry members joining us, for example Google, Facebook, Alibaba -- one after the other, they joined ITU recently.” Read the interview here. Watch the interview below.

Interviews with next top elected officials: Malcolm Johnson

“The last Plenipotentiary Conference adopted a number of efficiency measures — 30 in fact. So we've implemented most of those, I'm pleased to say, and made quite a lot of gains through doing that,” said Malcolm Johnson of the United Kingdom, who was re-elected at PP-18 to serve another four-year term as Deputy Secretary-General. “We've done a lot of work on simplifying and digitizing our internal processes. A lot of these processes were paper-based. I'm pleased to say since I started we're now using three million less pages a year than we were doing,” said Johnson. Read the interview here. Watch the interview below.

Interviews with next top elected officials: Chaesub Lee

“Our connected life should be safe and trustworthy,” said Dr Cheasub Lee of the Republic of Korea who was just re-elected as Director of the ITU Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB). This will call for ITU standards to address the needs of a widening array of ICT applications. ICTs are enabling innovation in financial services, energy, transport, healthcare and smart cities, and Artificial Intelligence is coming to have a “tremendous influence over all of our societies,” said Dr Lee. Read the interview here. Watch the interview below.

Interviews with next top elected officials: Mario Maniewicz

By increasing focus and efficiency, the ITU’s Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) will be “better equipped to tackle the main challenges that lie ahead, notably increasing broadband penetration and decreasing the digital divide,” said Mario Maniewicz of Uruguay, Director-elect of ITU’s Radiocommunication Bureau (BR). Read the interview here. Watch the interview below.

Behind the scenes

Staff at the host country information desk are the focal point for delegates trying to find their way around the PP-18 Conference Centre. The most popular questions are 'What's the schedule?', 'Where's the meeting room?' 'Where can I get coffee or tea?' And of course 'Where are the toilets?’ View more sneak peek photos here.