25 Nov 2019

The Global Microscope assesses the enabling environment for financial inclusion across 5 categories and 55 countries. In this 2019 edition, the EIU examines how countries are promoting financial inclusion for both women and men, 11 new gender-focused indicators have been added to the framework.

The Microscope was originally developed for countries in the Latin American and Caribbean regions in 2007 and was expanded into a global study in 2009. Most of the research for this report, which included interviews and desk analysis, was conducted between June and September 2019.

This work was supported by funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion, IDB Invest and IDB LAB.

The complete index, as well as detailed country analysis, can be viewed on these websites:

For further information, please contact:

Above text included in report originally posted on The Economist’s website


25 Nov 2019

In the wake of the fourth industrial revolution, startups and the technology sector need to be a critical part of the Cambodian economy to achieve aspirations of becoming an upper-middle income economy by 2030. Although the country has experienced strong GDP growth of 7% per annum, its primary growth sectors are at risk. With an economy dominated by agriculture, textile and manufacturing, the country needs to look to alternative sectors for long-term growth and value creation. Automation is expected to replace a significant proportion of low-skilled labour, such that the digital economy can be part of the answer for fundamental challenges in employability and the future of work.

Cambodia has positive market conditions for foreign investment and government support for the tech startup ecosystem. A 90% US-dollarized economy reduces currency risk compared to more volatile emerging market national currencies. Capital flows are significantly less restricted than neighbouring ASEAN markets coupled with aspects that improve ease of doing business, such as registration and immigration. A foreign national can move to Cambodia, register their tech business, and wholly own their company in a matter of weeks, making it an attractive destination for tech entrepreneurs. A number of undeveloped sectors present opportunities for innovation and “leapfrogging”. On the consumer side, 78% of the population remains unbanked in a largely cash-based economy. While this could be considered a challenge for tech startups in areas such as e-commerce, it also represents opportunity. There are many consumer problems to solve, with
international entrants Grab and iflix starting to infiltrate the market in very early stages (within the past two years or less at the time of publication). However, localized solutions are required and may provide a stronger, more relevant proposition, exemplars included later in this report. With the market gathering momentum and ready to adopt digital products, now is the time to catalyse the growth of the digital sector.

Perceptions of becoming a tech entrepreneur are rapidly improving amongst young people. Increased media coverage of international startup success stories, as well as local role models, is reducing the perceived risk of choosing an entrepreneurial career versus a more traditional pathway. Government support for the digital economy as defined in the Rectangular Strategy IV, shows public support for the startup agenda as an economic priority.

Cambodia has the building blocks to create a positive environment for startups to flourish and solve some of the economy’s most pressing needs. Given the increased digital literacy of the young, as well as scalable nature of tech solutions, this could be the gateway to boosting Cambodia’s competitiveness in regional markets while solving large-scale market inefficiencies domestically.

This research project was undertaken to provide an independent snapshot of the tech startup sector up to Q3 2018, characterising existing challenges and an outlook for the future of the sector. While the research synthesises the views of over 100 startup founders, it is not exhaustive coverage of all startups nationwide, but takes a systematic stakeholder approach to provide a comprehensive perspective of the ecosystem. This report aims to be a basic resource for all stakeholder groups in the market, including organisations or individuals outside of Cambodia who are already working in, or interested in participating in, the Cambodian tech startup ecosystem. It serves to:

  • Provide an overview of the landscape of the current tech and startup ecosystem for potential corporate, institutional or individual investors.
  • Identify and compile key challenges and existing support resources in the ecosystem.
  • Catalyse constructive discourse by providing recommendations to enable more systematic approaches by all stakeholders to develop the digital economy

Above text included in introduction


25 Nov 2019

This document provides firms offering financial products and services with a set of foundational principles on the responsible use of artificial intelligence and data analytics (AIDA). The Principles also help firms to strengthen internal governance around data management and use, fostering greater public confidence and trust in the use of AIDA.

Originally published on MAS’s website


31 Oct 2019

The IFC’s inaugural SME business banking survey launched in 2018 posed questions to better understand what the biggest issues SME banking leaders are grappling with and where they see opportunities to run innovative, competitive and sustainable SME banking units.


31 Oct 2019

A priority of the UNSGSA’s advocacy on technology-enabled innovation in financial services is to encourage good regulatory practices for FinTech. To ensure that FinTech is inclusive, safe, and responsible, it is vital that regulators have access to reputable advice when assessing, selecting, and implementing regulatory options.

Over the past three years, regulators in advanced, emerging, and developing economies have developed a number of promising initiatives to regulate and adapt regulatory frameworks for FinTech. These include innovation offices, regulatory sandboxes, and RegTech for regulators. Sharing their different national experiences is central to accelerating empirical evidence and creating good practices.

This report examines the potential impact of regulatory innovation on inclusive FinTech and distils early lessons learned. It also proposes Implementation Considerations for authorities seeking to enable inclusive FinTech through innovative regulatory initiatives of their own. The report builds on previous work in the field, including the G20 High-Level Principles (G20 HLP) for Digital Financial Inclusion (G20, 2016).

Semi-structured interviews with over 40 regulatory authorities and other subject matter experts in more than 20 advanced, emerging, and developing economies form the basis of this report. The methodology and a list of interviewees are set out in Annex 1.

Chapter 1 describes the relationships between financial innovation and financial inclusion. It discusses the dynamics of regulating FinTech and balancing regulatory objectives—from financial inclusion and consumer protection to financial stability and integrity.

Chapter 2 examines the three major innovative regulatory initiatives: innovation offices, regulatory sandboxes, and RegTech for regulators. It explains how each works in practice, its impact on financial inclusion, and key lessons learned. Case studies and examples illustrate insights and provide empirical evidence.

Chapter 3 presents practical, evidence based Implementation Considerations to assist regulators in emerging and developing economies with their own regulatory initiatives.

Above introduction included in the publication. Originally published on UNSGSA’s website


15 Oct 2019

Financial service providers have an important and ever-increasing role in emerging digital identity ecosystems. The authors investigate the potential positive impacts digital identities can have on underserved markets and how financial institutions can help to responsibly and inclusively grow digital identities by adopting the latest emerging technologies.

Financial institutions are well positioned to act as trusted, regulated players that can provide the building blocks for responsible digital identity initiatives by empowering individuals to control and extract value from their digital identities in a secure and inclusive manner. Financial institutions, as trusted data custodians and veteran risk managers and are well positioned to be at the forefront of protecting client privacy and ensuring financial well-being.

Originally posed on IIF’s website

A2ii: 10 YEARS ON

09 Oct 2019

In the 10 years since the Access to Insurance Initiative (A2ii) was established in 2009, the world has seen some good news. By 2011, the 1990 poverty rate had been cut in half, achieving the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG) ahead of schedule. There have been remarkable improvements in health outcomes. Education and literacy also made progress, overall as well as with reduced gender disparity in some cases.1 More people now have access to financial services: In 2017, the World Bank reported that 69 per cent of adults worldwide now have an account, up from 62 per cent in 2014 and 51 per cent in 2011. The world today is also more con- nected than ever before: over 3.2 billion people have access to and use the Internet, 1.8 billion do so via mobile, while 9 billion have access to a mobile connection, almost doubling from a decade ago.2

The insurance sector, after entering the decade with negative growth in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, is growing again, with much of the momentum coming from emerging markets. Attention is now on strengthening resilience, closing the protection gap and technological innovation, with a particular focus on harnessing the potential of technology while managing the arising risks. Insurance, having lived in the shadow of the banking and payments sectors, is now increasingly emerging as an incubator for innovation in its own right. In tandem with these developments, the focus of insurance supervisors3 is also shifting from post-crisis recovery and standard-setting towards innovation and emerging risks.

Yet for all the steps forward, disparities remain. While extreme poverty is declining, the world is not on track towards achieving ending extreme poverty by 2030. A fraction of the population in some advanced economies are still extremely poor8 . A large proportion of the developing market workforce remains in the agricultural and informal sector, but social protection mechanisms for them remain inadequate9 . Technology and connectivity are also advancing at an unequal pace, and therefore not all countries and groups equally benefit. In many markets, access to private insurance is still a luxury from which the most financially vulnerable remain underserved or excluded. Consumer trust in insurance is low in upper and lower-income jurisdictions alike. A gap persists between developed and emerging market insurance penetration levels, as well as locally between income segments, rural and urban areas, men and women.

By the early 2000s, some pioneering supervisors were taking steps to address the protection gap between rich and poor. By 2009, India, China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Peru and Mexico already had microinsurance regulation in place. The A2ii was established in the same year, borne out of the recognition that it was important to support supervisors around the world in making regulation and supervision more supportive of inclusive insurance, while complying with global standards. The year 2012 saw the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) publish the landmark Application Paper: Regulation and Supervision Supporting Inclusive Insurance that carved a path forward for inclusive insurance regulation. Today, 23 have regulatory provisions aimed at fostering inclusive insurance and another 25 are currently developing inclusive insurance regulations. Access to insurance is now front-of-mind for the insurance regulatory community.
The year 2019 marks the 10-year anniversary of the A2ii’s founding. In 2016, the A2ii published a document looking back at how the substance of inclusive insurance regulation has evolved over a decade. This publication takes another step back to reflect, and ask: What forces of change have shaped inclusive insurance regulations in the past 10 years? What has this meant for inclusive insurance and regulatory practices surrounding inclusive insurance? What has the regulatory community achieved, and how can history guide us as we forge ahead?

Above taken from Introduction, and originally published on A2ii’s website


09 Oct 2019

The purpose of this disaster risk toolkit is to provide practical guidance on how to choose which disaster risk finance instruments for which circumstance. The main audience is policymakers in developing countries who are responsible for disaster risk management, at national, regional and local levels. It is also intended to assist the development and humanitarian community who support developing country policymakers in disaster risk management and who, sometimes, either implicitly or explicitly, also hold some of the risks associated with disasters in these countries. It is structured as a series of steps that those actors who hold risk, and the partners who support them in this role, can follow to better understand, reduce and manage these risks, and finance activities accordingly. The steps are as follows:

  • Step 1: Risk audit
  • Step 2: Determining disaster risk management actions
  • Step 3: Understanding the dimensions of the financing need
  • Step 4: Selecting disaster risk financing instruments
  • Step 5: Combining disaster risk financing instruments to create a disaster risk finance strategy

To practically illustrate these steps, the final section of the paper presents a hypothetical case study of an urban environment in South East Asia and shows how these steps might be followed and the possible implications that may result.

Published on PreventionWeb’s website


09 Oct 2019

The private and public sectors are increasingly leveraging new technologies to deliver collaborative approaches for financial service providers (FSPs) to meet customer due diligence (CDD) requirements. These include sharing data and elements of compliance functions on a level that was previously unthinkable. By pooling resources, these collaborative approaches have the potential to lower CDD costs and increase the effectiveness of anti-money laundering and counter financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) measures. This in turn would make it more feasible for FSPs to serve low-income customers with limited financial histories or those who are members of higher crime risk groups, such as those living in or fleeing conflict.

CGAP has developed a typology to help policy makers and financial service providers evaluate different collaborative approaches of customer due diligence.

Originally posted on CGAP’s website