Part #2 – Learning from Peers to Better Protect DFS Consumers
Blog #2 Suptech, consumer protection, and data: central banks shaping the future
In the constantly evolving financial landscape, central banks bear the crucial responsibility of upholding financial stability, fostering trust, and ensuring the integrity and inclusivity of the financial system. As financial ecosystems become increasingly intricate, central banks face the imperative of adapting their strategies and tools accordingly.
Recently, the Bank of Tanzania (BOT), National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE), National Bank of Rwanda (NBR), and the Bangko Sentral Pilipinas (BSP) participated in a peer learning visit hosted by BSP in the Philippines. In this second blog of a two-part series, we explore how this five-day visit was a unique opportunity for participating central banks to exchange knowledge and experiences in financial consumer protection and market supervision approaches and practices. BOT’s participation was funded by the European Union under the Digital for Tanzania (D4T) project and NBE’s participation was funded by the DFS for Resilience project supported by the European Union and the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States.
The visit allowed the central bank representatives to immerse themselves in four days of collaborative learning, culminating in the unveiling of action plans on the fifth day. These action plans offer insights into the future of financial supervision, deeply rooted in each bank’s distinct context while providing universal lessons for other central banks.
All four central banks exhibited a strong inclination towards supervisory technology, commonly known as suptech, aimed at integrating ground-breaking technologies into supervisory functions to enhance the efficiency, accuracy, and proactivity of the supervision process. Suptech encompasses a wide range of systems and tools, including automated data collection systems and real-time monitoring tools. For example, Tanzania plans to roll out an integrated supervisory system known as the real-time information supervisory system (RTISS), consolidating various supervisory functions under one technological umbrella. Similarly, Ethiopia is focused on improving its supervisory capabilities by enhancing its Banking Supervision Application (BSA) and implementing a digital finance services data portal, leveraging advanced technologies to streamline the entire process of data collection, processing, storage, and analytics.
What’s noteworthy is that each of these four central banks is at a different stage of suptech adoption, indicating that the journey toward technological integration is not solely dependent on a country’s overall technological maturity. The key takeaway for other central banks is that if suptech is still on the periphery of their strategic vision, it’s time to bring it to the forefront. The financial landscape is becoming increasingly digital, rendering manual, traditional supervisory methods inadequate for current and future developments. By embracing suptech, central banks can ensure real-time monitoring, proactive interventions, and efficient resource allocation. In an era where fintech innovations are emerging rapidly, suptech can be the tool that ensures these innovations align with regulatory standards.
Secondly, each central bank’s action plan emphasizes a commitment to consumers. In a world with complex financial products and services, consumer protection is crucial. The health of a nation’s financial ecosystem is intricately linked to consumer trust. Whether it’s through NBE’s vision of establishing dedicated consumer protection directorates or NBR’s adoption of formal mediation mechanisms for consumer grievances, there’s a shared understanding: consumer trust is the foundation of a stable financial ecosystem. Furthermore, the use of technology, as demonstrated by BOT’s plans to roll out a complaints-handling system and BSP’s intention to conduct real-time consumer sentiment analysis, showcases a proactive approach to consumer protection. The lesson for other central banks is that consumer protection involves more than just resolving disputes; it’s about creating an environment where consumers feel safe, informed, and empowered. This point was reinforced by CGAP’s presentation on market conduct supervision and the tools for monitoring markets, all aimed at promoting a consumer-centric approach within responsible financial ecosystems. Central banks must ensure that their strategies prioritize consumers. This involves not only introducing protective measures but also educating consumers about their rights and the rapidly changing offering of financial products and services. These central banks are taking a holistic approach, combining consumer protection initiatives with financial and digital literacy programs to empower customers. In many cases, these programs are undertaken in partnership with financial services providers (FSPs) or other relevant stakeholders.
Third, all four central banks emphasized the importance of data in their action plans. In today’s world, data-driven decision-making is not just a strategic advantage; it’s a necessity. Data offers insights that were previously unimaginable. From predicting market trends to gaining a granular understanding of consumer behavior, data analytics can change the way central banks operate. For instance, Tanzania’s focus on integrated platforms for supervisory analytics demonstrates an understanding of the multifaceted applications of data. In the age of information, central banks cannot afford to operate in data silos. Investing in robust data infrastructure, analytics tools, and expertise is crucial. With data analytics, central banks can transition from reactive policy-making to proactive strategies, ensuring stability even in volatile financial environments.
Lastly, a recurring theme in all the action plans is the emphasis on clear execution, providing timelines, responsibilities, and resource requirements. This precision ensures that initiatives are not stalled by bureaucratic complexities. Additionally, the implied accountability mechanisms inherent in presenting these plans among peers can further enhance their effectiveness.
These action plans serve as a guide for other central banks, emphasizing the importance of technology, consumer protection, data, and clear execution in a changing financial landscape. Embracing these imperatives ensures a stable, inclusive, and growth-oriented financial future. As central banks navigate the modern financial world, these insights reflect the potential of international cooperation and shared knowledge.
Read Blog #1 Bridging borders: the power of peer learning and exchanges