“Universal access to financial services is within reach – thanks to new technologies, transformative business models and ambitious reforms.”
– Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group
At the World Bank’s annual meetings, I joined a small group of MasterCard colleagues in a special session co-hosted by the World Economic Forum on financial inclusion. It was in this session that the President of the World Bank, Jim Kim, announced that the World Bank would partner across industries and sectors to achieve financial access for the 2.5 billion unbanked adults and 200 million small and medium enterprises by 2020.
I’m still trying to comprehend the scale, resources and attention that will be required to hit this mark in seven years! But his analysis is rooted in the notion of public-private partnerships –agreements between governments or international development organizations and private sector stakeholders like MasterCard – to join forces and achieve positive outcomes for citizens in economies throughout the world.
Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, the UN’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, has been leveraging her public platform to focus global attention on the importance of financial inclusion, and at the meeting also identified the importance of private sector partnering with the public to fight against world poverty and corruption. And, it was gratifying to hear Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Ngozi Oknojo-Iweala highlight MasterCard’s partnership with her country to bring financial functionality to 13 million national identification cards – with an ultimate goal of financial access for 124 million Nigerians.
That the World Bank was co-hosting the session with the World Economic Forum – the foremost global private sector convener – demonstrates the tipping point we have reached. Professor Klaus Schwab, the Founder and CEO of the World Economic Forum, reminded the audience that actual economic growth comes from including more people in to the global economy and the importance of stakeholder cooperation. In a nice validation, he motioned to the MasterCard group because of our CEO Ajay Banga’s co-chairmanship of the Forum’s Financial Inclusion Steering Committee.
As powerful as the session was, two highlights from the larger conference made the experience especially impactful: watching my colleague Michael Miebach receive the, “Leading Innovator of the Year Award” from Africa Investor; and listening to Malala Yousafzai recount her experiences with the Taliban and dispense wisdom in a manner way beyond her young years.