Day 1 Recap: Exploring the Ecosystem

Tuesday 13th November 2018

Day 1 of the GBA Summit revolved around one key topic: ecosystems. Throughout the day, panelists agreed that financial services providers of the future will collaborate across a wide range of actors to efficiently and effectively meet women’s financial services needs.

Following opening remarks from Tania Moussallem, Chair of the GBA; Bank al Etihad Chairman Isam Salfiti; and Inez Murray, GBA CEO, a special message from Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, was delivered. Her Majesty shared her support for the GBA’s work and what its members are doing to open up financial access for women globally, while noting that no one segment of the financial services ecosystem can solve the problem alone.

“Today, I ask you to go further and explore the horizon beyond our usual practices or partners. What can we learn from actors beyond the financial services realm that have successfully reached and served women at scale – for example consumer goods or agribusinesses? How can we partner with them?” she asked. “Technology is undoubtedly key, but how do we address the gender digital divide? What is the data gap that we need to close, and how could we best use this data to address women’s most persistent financial needs?”

Paul Jenkins, Partner at McKinsey & Company, then gave a GBA Talk on the Future of Financial Services for Women, where he echoed Her Majesty’s sentiment that technology will be the critical force driving women’s financial access and shared some interesting potential future uses for sex-disaggregated data. He noted that consumer and technology trends are coalescing with a demand for personalization and immediacy, and displayed the results of McKinsey research outlining that one-third of total consumption in 2025 will be in a digital space. Paul explained how data will help different industries collaborate – cutting down on the amount of work required by each one – and how women, in particular, will look at ecosystem plays when solving for their lifecycle needs.

Two GBA member case studies highlighted different institutions with similar journeys. CEO of Bank al Etihad H.E. Nadia Al Saeed shared the bank’s holistic Shorouq program, which has provided a comprehensive suite of both financial and non-financial services for women since 2014. The program has yielded very positive results,  with 4X growth in the women’s portfolio and 5x growth in women borrowers. She also highlighted the importance of partnerships in scaling the program and achieving success. Ulrike Decoene, Chief of Staff to the CEO of AXA in France, then discussed the insurer’s Women’s Market proposition, noting that truly providing women clients with what they need requires leveraging technology and data-driven insights to move from being a payer of claims to becoming a partner. By focusing on key moments and bundling products as solutions, AXA has been able to create a global initiative, with 18 CVPs in 15 countries.

Vice Chairman of Mastercard Ann Cairns, in a discussion with Inez Murray, talked about the future of women’s empowerment, which she sees as hingeing on women’s access to quality financial services. She also shared the importance of using gender-disaggregated data to truly uncover where women are and are not using products and services, and partnerships with other players that Mastercard has seen make a difference for women.

The conversation was followed by a session that explored the different ecosystems that can be leveraged to meet different lifecycle needs for women. Financing women-owned businesses was viewed through the lens of a bank (KCB Bank), payments company (Mastercard) and consumer goods company (Unilever); financing the unbanked was looked at from the perspective of a bank (Diamond Bank) and telco (MTN); access to childcare, health and non-financial services was explored from the perspective of an an insurance company (AXA); and non-financial services ecosystem plays from an international finance institution (IFC), banks (Itaú Unibanco and Bank of Palestine), and non-profits and/or online platforms were discussed.

In the afternoon, the GBA Policy Forum on Policy Enablers that Tackle Women’s Lifecycle Needs in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) kicked off with a keynote address from H.E. Dr. Ziad Fariz, Governor of the Central Bank of Jordan, who highlighted the financial inclusion of women as a key element of the Central Bank’s overall financial inclusion strategy. He noted that governments and financial services providers can really have an impact on women’s financial inclusion if they work together on areas like the collection and use of gender-disaggregated data and financial literacy trainings.

Tazeen Hasan, Senior Private Sector Development Specialist at the World Bank Group, then framed up the rest of the Policy Forum by noting the ways in which women’s financial access is constrained in dozens of economies around the world. She drilled down to key policy priorities that will truly make a difference for women: Enacting laws protecting women’s access to assets, reforming laws constraining mobility and access to identification, ensuring credit agencies collect repayment information from sources like microfinance institutions and utility companies, and introducing laws barring gender or marital-status discrimination in credit decisions.

The final discussion of the day offered a look at how we can move the needle for three critical segments of women in MENA: the unbanked, forcibly displaced populations (FDPs) and women’s MSMEs. Panelists discussed as critical measures the increased use of digital platforms – particularly for the unbanked and FDPs – and the need to increase women’s control over assets, develop a strong financial infrastructure and create policy frameworks that support women entrepreneurs.

The day concluded with a Welcome Networking Reception, during which it was announced that the 2019 Summit will be hosted by AXA in Paris.