UNCDF is launching a call for applications to establish a panel of consumers to advance financial inclusion in Central Africa.
Note: We have extended the application deadline to Tuesday, January 26 for those working in Equatorial Guinea and the Republic of the Congo.
The importance of seeking advice
Technology, electronic money and new digital payment platforms are helping to extend the provision of financial services to those traditionally neglected by banks: vulnerable low-income groups — particularly women.
In recent years, the use of digital financial services has increased in Central Africa. However, financial inclusion remains a major challenge with strong sub-regional disparities. In 2017, the penetration rate of mobile money accounts was only 6% in the Republic of Congo, 15% in Cameroon and Chad, and almost 44% in Gabon. The rise of mobile money continues to be held back by a combination of institutional, regulatory, economic, cultural and operational factors.
One of the main challenges in regulation and supervision concerns consumer confidence. Consumers of digital financial services face a multitude of risks (such as the risk of fraud by agents, providers or malicious third parties, as well as the risks of system failure and cyber security). These risks create mistrust of digital financial services and hamper uptake of their services.
To mitigate these risks, adhering to the principles of consumer protection is a fundamental step in improving the lives of DFS users and in advancing financial inclusion. This is the spirit, in particular, of the new regulation relating to the protection of consumers of banking products and services in the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC). This new regulation will enter into force on January 1, 2021 and marks a crucial step in the pursuit of the objectives of protecting financial consumers in the CEMAC zone. These general principles and provisions intend to prevent, among other things:
Disinformation due to a lack of transparency (for example on tariffs)
Breaches of data confidentiality
The failure of client-focused complaint resolution mechanisms
However, it must be noted that the voice of consumers — and especially female consumers — struggles to be heard during the process of drawing up and implementing public policies and regulations in DFS. Women are particularly exposed to the risks of unequal treatment, in particular because they tend to be more vulnerable to abusive and aggressive commercial practices. Moreover, many clients of financial organizations do not have the opportunity to communicate their expectations, concerns and recommendations regarding business practices to public decision-makers.
It is with this in mind that UNCDF is launching a call for applications for the advisory panel “Women and Digital Financial Services” in Central Africa. The objective of this participatory approach is to include more women in consultation processes on the development and implementation of public policies and regulations related to digital financial services. The panel will also highlight possible solutions for payment service providers in order to design innovative digital financial services that will meet the needs and aspirations of the different profiles of women in CEMAC.
The following groups are invited to apply:
Anyone aged at least 18 living in one of the countries of the CEMAC zone (Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Chad) wishing to share their perspective on regulations related to digital financial services with UNCDF.
Any representative of associations, federations or groups which, by their objectives or their constitution, are focused on the issue of financial inclusion and the empowerment of women, and actually having activities in the CEMAC zone.
Candidates cannot have a political agenda.
Participation is not compensated.
The first panel meeting is scheduled before the end of January 2021. A certificate of attendance will be issued at the end of this meeting.