What is APFII?
APFII is an industry body coordinating regional efforts to enhance competition and provide common services for the efficient delivery of financial inclusion services in the pacific.
Established in 2017, as a response to de-risking and the loss of "correspondent bank accounts" by smaller financial institutions in emerging markets, APFII's work includes:
- lowering the cost of entry level financial services,
- creating a competitive landscape where service providers can access low cost and dependable technology at scale, and
- enabling providers to focus on financial inclusion and addressing the significant unbanked or financially excluded populations of the South Pacific Economies that sit well outside established, major banking corridors.
What is Financial Inclusion and Why is it Important?
An estimated 2 billion working-age adults – more than half of the world’s total adult population – do not have a bank account at a formal financial institution. Financial inclusion seeks to ensure that all households and businesses, regardless of income level, have access to and can effectively use the appropriate financial services they need to improve their lives.
Currently, the world’s emerging economies live and work in the 'informal economy'. Even though they have little money, they still save, borrow and manage day-to-day expenses. However, without access to bank services we take for granted like a savings account, debit card, insurance, or line of credit theyrely on a more informal means of managing money including:
- family and friends
- moneylenders, or
- keeping money under the mattress.
Sometimes these vulnerable communities have no choice but to use these insufficient, risky, expensive, and unpredictable methods of managing their finances.
Being included in the formal financial system helps people:
- Make day-to-day transactions, including sending and receiving money,
- Safeguard savings, which can help households manage cash flow spikes, smooth consumption and build working capital,
- Finance small businesses or microenterprises, helping owners invest in assets and grow their businesses,
- Plan and pay for recurring expenses, such as school fees,
- Mitigate shocks and manage expenses related to unexpected events such as medical emergencies, a death in the family, theft, or natural disasters, and
- Improve overall welfare.
Financial inclusion has widespread benefits - not only does it improve the prospects of individuals, families and villages, it has significant benefits for country and regional-wide economies. Financial inclusion is linked to a country’s economic and social development, and plays a role in reducing extreme poverty.
Founder and Chairman of APFII.org
In the 1990’s, APFII's Robert Bell, saw first-hand the need to to help Pacific Island nations including Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu improve their financial infrastructure. He initially established KlickEx to streamline and simplify international payments and money transfers, pioneering the use of mobile apps and other emerging technologies to provide convenient, low-cost and accessible solutions to help Pacific communities with banking transactions.
Robert now guides regulatory policy formation and national regulatory operations and speaks regularly at a variety of world leader forums. Robert holds degrees in Finance, and in Economics, is a graduate of Stanford University’s Advanced Financial & Quantitative Engineering program, and studied Cyber Security, Policy and Network Resiliency at M.I.T.. Robert has won awards ranging from the Hi-Tech Young Achiever of the Year (NZ), to Community Banking Innovator of the Year (UK), a New Zealander Of the Year Medal for services to the community as a "local hero" (2017). And in 2018, was the CEO of one of the highest growth companies in Asia, as ranked by the Financial Times (UK).