Key players across Asia’s FinTech sector have attended the Philippines Central Bank’s Financial Education Stakeholders Expo, aimed at building financial literacy for Filipino youths across the nation.
Fintech has been identified as one of a suite of emerging technology sectors providing new tools to fast track financial inclusion across Asia.
The Expo comes followed the Asia Finance Forum, where the Asian Development Bank declared emerging digital technologies, such as fintech as the greatest opportunity to bring about financial inclusion across the developing world.
The Asia Finance Forum explored how the 1.7 billion people living outside the formal banking and financial system, can be empowered through technologies, such as mobile payments, digital banking, artificial intelligence, big data and blockchain.
Amid building momentum, President of the Philippines’ Fintech Alliance, Lito Villanueva addressed the Financial Education Stakeholders Expo – detailing the sectors’ efforts to build financial literacy through technology.
Villanueva has worked for an array of leading organisations in the global fintech sector and has been a proponent of using emerging technology to empower the financially disenfranchised.
“We believe in the simple yet profound idea that no one regardless of birth, gender, or geography
should be left behind in the country’s development,” he stated.
“One can only participate in economic development when he or she is provided with access to financial instruments that can be translated into productive investments.
“The majority of our country’s population have limitations with regard to access to financial services.
“This is precisely why we believe in the transformative power of technology,” he stated.
“We believe that the vast population of unbanked and underserved can greatly contribute to development when they are given access to financial instruments via their most ubiquitous tool: their mobile phones.”
Clariño speaks about the success of San Lorenzo’s financial empowerment programs.
Taking the financial initiative
In 2015 the Philippines Central Bank launched the Economic and Financial Learning Program, aimed at improving financial literacy through an array of local community initiatives.
One of which, is a saving program at Tabaco City’s San Lorenzo Elementary School, helping students open their first bank account and make weekly deposits.
The local program is headed by school Principal, Josefa C. Clariño, who was at the Expo to showcase the on-ground benefits of the program.
“Every Thursday someone from the financial institution comes to collect the children’s savings,” she says.
“Fifty two per cent of students at the school have an account. “To date, 535 pupils have saved 364,004 pesos. “One child has saved 33,407 pesos.”
She believes such programs are crucial in building the foundations for financial knowledge – crucial in lifting disenfranchised communities across the region out of poverty over the next generation.
A mission seen as pivotal according to a World Bank study, which revealed that only around 20 million people out of the Philippines’ 100 million plus population reports that they save money, with only half that number having bank accounts.