26 September 2012

Tackling financial exclusion

The SWIFT Institute in association with academia is hosting a Financial Inclusion Research Conference in Q1 2013 to promote a clearer understanding of the relationships between financial inclusion, economic growth, savings rate, income distribution and poverty.

Financial exclusion has always been discussed as a problem of under-developed markets, often in Asia and Africa. But the reality is that globally more than 50% of adults do not have a bank account. These include a significant number from the developed countries of Europe and North America. Though every country is working to tackle financial exclusion at a national level, there is a need to understand the macro-level benefits of financial inclusion worldwide.

The SWIFT Institute in association with the Ash Centre for Democratic Governance and Innovation and the Mossavar-Rahmani Centre for Business and Government at Harvard Kennedy School will host a Financial Inclusion Research Conference in Q1 2013 to promote a clearer understanding of the relationships between financial inclusion, economic growth, savings rate, income distribution and poverty. The one and a half day conference aims to bring together researchers and financial industry leaders from around the world to explore how to bridge the gap. The conference will be held at Harvard Kennedy School, Cambridge, Massachusetts on 28 February and 1 March 2013.

The organisers earlier this year sought theoretical and applied papers from academia on the theme of financial inclusion. The call for papers received an overwhelming response from around the world with submissions coming from the UK, the US, India, China, Brazil, Kenya, Mexico, Ethiopia, Palestine, Qatar, Australia, the Philippines, France, the Netherlands and Belgium. The SWIFT Institute received forty-six papers, submitted by researchers from major universities and research foundations across the world. Over the next few weeks all submissions will be reviewed and five authors will be chosen to attend the conference and present to an audience of academics and senior level bankers interested in reaching the unbanked.

SWIFT board chairman and SWIFT Institute advisory council member Yawar Shah will host the conference and Guillermo Ortiz, member of the G-30 and also an advisory council member, will be giving the keynote speech at the conference dinner on 28 February.

The SWIFT Institute was launched in April of this year with the idea of fostering research and to disseminate knowledge and information about the financial services industry. In a short span of six months, it has attracted some very high profile names to join the advisory council. The institute has issued three research grants to date with a further five undergoing evaluation. Future calls for research proposals for grants on specific themes will be issued on an ongoing basis.


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