COMESA Building, Right Wing, 2nd floor, Ben Bella Road, Lusaka, Zambia.
+260 211 229725/32 or + 260 761 228 754

Catalyzing Digital Financial Inclusion: Insights from the 5th COMESA DFI Public-Private Dialogue

The recent 5th Digital Financial Inclusion Public-Private Dialogue served as a beacon of success, uniting trailblazers, policymakers, and industry leaders in driving groundbreaking discussions and forward-thinking strategies. The event encompassed pivotal sessions that delved into the transformative potential of the private sector, integration approaches, infrastructure assessments, operational plans, and innovative proof of concepts, all geared toward advancing digital financial inclusion within the COMESA region.

Private Sector’s Role in Financial Inclusion

Mr. Paul Russo, Group CEO of KCB Bank Group, illuminated the crucial role played by the private sector in propelling financial inclusion. His insights emphasized the power of innovative solutions, strategic partnerships, and agile strategies in empowering unbanked and underbanked populations across the region.

Multi-Country Integration Approaches

Addressing the complexities of cross-border payments for low-income users was a focal point. Discussions underlined the struggles faced in serving this demographic and proposed simplified conceptual models for multi-country integration. Dr. Mohamed Helmy, the Payment Systems General Department Head at the Central Bank of Egypt, chaired a session exploring components of a multi-country instant initiative, shedding light on critical scheme design choices for FX conversion and participation.

COMESA Vision & Market Capture

Insights were shared regarding the existing digital infrastructure within COMESA and efforts made to capture market participants for the COMESA Digital Retail Payments Scheme. Mrs. Tilotma Gobin Jhurry, the Assistant Director of Payment Systems & Digital Currency, and Digital Innovation & FinTech Division, at the Bank of Mauritius, chaired this session, stressing the importance of understanding the current landscape and identifying expansion opportunities for a robust financial ecosystem benefiting all stakeholders.

Translating Vision into Action

An operational plan designed to execute the outlined objectives took center stage. Discussions focused on practical implementation steps, addressing challenges, and illuminating the roadmap to success. Mr. Fraser Mdwazika, the Director of National Payments Systems at the Reserve Bank of Malawi, led this session, unpacking the proposed governance structure, revised rulebook, and business requirements documents.

Innovative Proof of Concept

The event also featured an exciting overview of the upcoming Zambia-Malawi Proof of Concept (POC) on the COMESA Digital Retail Payments Scheme. Dr. Lucas Njoroge, Director of the COMESA Monetary Institute, presented the scope of the POC, participant types for testing, and metrics to gauge its success, showcasing innovation as a cornerstone for progress.

The event’s success was driven by the enthusiasm and participation of attendees, signaling a collective commitment to advancing digital financial inclusion for MSMEs within the COMESA region. The collaborative efforts of trailblazers, policymakers, and industry leaders have laid a strong foundation for transformative change, promising a more inclusive financial landscape for all.