Developments

The World Bank as well and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) remain committed to promoting Financial Consumer Protection.

At the continental level, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) established by the African Union is a key development for Africa as a critical tool to boost trade and economic growth and strengthen integration among African countries milestones for development. One main objective of the AfCTA is to eliminate tariffs on intra-African trade in goods and services. Financial services remain central to this objective. In light of this, AfCTA recognises the critical role of consumer protection and notes that to ensure a smooth transition during trade liberalization, complementary policies such as consumer protection and competition policies need to be put in place. In recent times, Heads of State and leaders have warned against predatory lending.

Gender also plays a critical role in financial services, as such it remains a critical element in this context. The need for responsible finance remains central, particularly considering various global, continental and national developments. Fair and transparent treatment of customers is not always recognized, and lack of financial capability is still being exploited. In many cases, women are at the receiving end due to various reasons including lack of financial literacy and lack of policies, regulation or enforcement thereof. The providers of financial services need to realise that there are advantages for them from an informed customer decision.

Although a lot is being done towards Financial Consumer Protection globally, there is a lot to be done in particular in Africa. Progress has been made with only a few countries that have policies in place, whereas others are in the process of developing a national strategy on financial consumer protection, yet others are lagging. South Africa, Tanzania, Nigeria, Malawi, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, to mention a few, have made great trends towards these policies. President Uhuru Kenyatta was recently quoted in advising the Central Bank of that country to prevent predatory lending.2 It is the high time that Africa gets together, to learn from one another to enhance financial consumer protection. In light of this, it is critical that globally, Financial services recognize the importance of Financial Consumer Protection as a major element for Financial Inclusion.

Financial Services Industry

The Financial services industry includes:

  • Deposit and Credit Products and Services
  • Insurance
  • Private Pensions
  • Securities
  • Retail Payment Services
  • Credit Reporting Systems
  • Financial Capability

Effective Financial Consumer Protection

For Financial Consumer Protection to be effective, the World Bank suggests that the following areas be prioritized and established: –

  • Legal and supervisory framework: legal framework, institutional arrangements and mandates, supervisory activities, enforcement,
  • Disclosure and transparency: format and manner of disclosure, disclosure of terms and conditions, key facts statements,
  • Fair treatment and business conduct: unfair terms and conditions, unfair practices, product suitability, sales practices, agents, compensation,
  • Data protection and privacy: lawful collection and usage of customer data, confidentiality and security of customer information, sharing customer information,
  • Dispute resolution mechanisms: internal complaints handling, out-of-court formal dispute resolution mechanisms,
  • Financial Education and Literacy
  • FinTech developments and innovations

The Conference

JEYAX Development and Training in partnership with the International Network for Corporate Social Responsibility (IN-CSR) and other key stakeholders will convene the Financial Consumer Protection Conference from 20 – 22 April 2020 in Zanzibar Tanzania. This conference aims to promote dialogue and create awareness, share experiences among Africans and develop recommendations towards implementation of good workable and sustainable practice for Financial Consumer Protection.

 

JEYAX is a Pan Africa capacity building and skills development organization with operations in Kenya, South Africa, Rwanda and operates globally, while IN-CSR is a leading Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility firm headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria with operations in many African countries.

Both organisations work with governments, civil society, multi-lateral institutions and individuals globally in promoting Sustainable Financing and Consumer Protection Frameworks. Collectively, they have worked closely with a number of African countries in benchmarking visits related to the practice on FCP at national levels. IN-CSR has also helped leading commercial banks to align their services with the Sustainable Banking Principles, led in the development of the Guide for Sustainable Insurance while JEYAX has assisted several African Central Banks in the establishment of complaints management processes. The gaps jointly identified in relation to the above areas are incredible. As such, this conference will promote conversations towards practical, workable solutions to respond and to strengthen FCP in the sector.

Delegates will engage in critical matters and practical aspects pertaining to FCP, and learn from practitioners in this field, working towards FCP for Africa. Responsible finance and the role we can play in putting them into common practice is critical.

The expected outcomes of the conference are to:

  • Promoting a fair, accessible and sustainable marketplace for consumer products and services in Africa
  • Sharing and reinforcing practical norms, best practices, and standards relating to consumer
  • Improving standards of consumer
  • Preventing certain unfair marketing and business
  • Promoting responsible consumer behaviour; and
  • Enhancing consistency in elements for legislation and enforcement framework relating to consumer transactions
  • Advocacy for consumer financial consumer protection
  • Gender and Youth inclusion in Financial Consumer Protection
  • Enhancing financial consumer protection in practice
  • Dispute Resolution Mechanisms through sharing of experiences
  • Reviewing of developments Fintech practices and how these impact on Financial Consumer Protection

It is expected that this conference will be an annual gathering to be convened in different countries each year to focus on components pertinent to FCP.

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KEY ISSUES FOR DISCUSSION

The objective of the conference is to provide a forum to discuss and share best practices for developing effective financial consumer protection practices towards enhancing financial inclusion in Africa. The event will offer an opportunity to deliberate on:

· Review global developments and trends in financial inclusion and financial consumer protection
· Engage in strategic discussions on the development of financial consumer protection frameworks and practice in Africa
· Highlight the need for regulation and enforcement mechanisms
· Create awareness and explore Different approaches to promoting financial capability
· Share practical experiences within the region and beyond on financial consumer protection
· Discuss the need for Gender and Youth in financial inclusion – within Financial Consumer Protection
· Present the preliminary results of financial consumer protection developments
· Exchange experiences on financial consumer protection practices with the countries in the region
· Share experiences and best practices for financial inclusion and consumer protection
· Share best practices on national strategies for financial inclusion, financial capability, financial literacy and consumer protection globally
· Review the demand-side approaches to support financial inclusion in the digital age
· Develop recommendations, moving forward

PARTICIPANTS

Guests will be drawn from all African Countries and strategic partners. It is projected that more than 100 organisations will share this critical learning space. Delegates will be invited from the following institutions

  • Reserve / Central Banks
  • Regulators:
    • Finance
    • Insurance
    • Depository insurance
    • Pension
    • Utilities
  • FSCA
  • Financial Services Board
  • Securities /Stock exchange
  • Insurance Companies
  • Retail Banks
  • Micro Finance Institutions
  • Ombudsman offices – finance, insurance etc
  • FIUs
  • Judiciary
  • Prosecutions
  • Commissions – competition commissions, Fair treatment commissions
  • Banking Associations
  • Insurance Associations
  • Pension funds
  • National Health Insurance Funds
  • Pension fund associations
  • Human Rights Commission
  • Parliamentary Committees
  • Regional organisations

Institutions to be invited include:

  • African Union
  • NEPAD
  • UN
  • COMESA
  • EAC
  • ECOWAS
  • MAGHREB
  • SADC
  • Financial Intelligence Agencies

Speakers

Speakers will be drawn from institutions and experts from

  • South Africa
  • Tanzania
  • Nigeria
  • Uganda
  • Australia
  • USA
  • Pool of experts from different countries

The language of instruction will be English alone- due to various constraints.