[31 10 2007]
For developing economies, channelling savings into the formal financial sector remains the best guarantee to effectively stimulate economic and social development. Savings are not only a protection against the vicissitudes of daily life, but can also serve as collateral for loans and investments, contributing to create employment and welfare and thus reducing poverty. Facilitating access to the formal financial system for the widest portion of the population must therefore remain a policy priority.
For several years now, WSBI considers Access to finance as its main priority and the organisation has gone to every effort to increase and deepen access to the formal financial system in the 92 countries where it has members. Thanks to the extensive network of bank branches of WSBI members, and the low threshold for their products and services, they can reach a potential customer base of 1.2 billion customers.
A recent initiative of WSBI endeavors to capture the impressive potential of international remittances, the money that many migrants send regularly to their families in their home country. Various studies estimate the money sent home in 2006 by 150 million immigrants worldwide to a dazzling USD 300 billion.
Chris De Noose, Managing Director of the WSBI declared: “Migrant remittances represent one of the most significant financial flows received by developing countries. It is important to bring a much bigger proportion of these flows into the formal financial system. Indeed, even if a considerable part of these money flows is intended for immediate consumption, a significant proportion is available for savings and investments or can serve as collateral for loans. Remittances should become a cornerstone of economic development”.
However, various problems remain to be tackled to put remittances to work as levers for economic and social development. The fact that too many transactions remain in the informal sector has already been mentioned, but high transaction costs also limit the economic potential of remittances.
“Thanks to the joint efforts of its 109 members in 92 countries, WSBI will stimulate the transition from an informal to a formal transfer system”, said Chris De Noose. Our members will propose high quality remittance services at competitive prices. In this way, these money flows will become a genuine lever for social and economic development in the migrants’ home countries.
Notes to Editors:
1. Press Contacts:
Dirk Smet, Tel: +32 211 11 90 firstname.lastname@example.org
2. About WSBI:
WSBI (World Savings Banks Institute) is the only global representative of savings and retail banks. Founded in 1924, it represents savings and retail banks and associations thereof in 92 countries (Asia-Pacific, the Americas, Africa and Europe – via the European Savings Banks Group). As the international voice of savings and retail banking, WSBI works closely with international financial institutions and donor agencies. It thereby represents savings and retail banks’ interests at an international level while also facilitating the provision of access to financial sectors worldwide, e.g., through training, consultancy services, etc., be it in developing or developed regions. WSBI members are typically savings and retail banks or associations thereof. They are often organised in decentralised networks and offer their services throughout their region. WSBI member banks have reinvested responsibly in their region for many decades and are one distinct benchmark for corporate social responsibility activities throughout the world.
3. About the World Thrift Day:
The World Thrift Day, which is celebrated yearly on 31 October, has been proclaimed by the World Savings Banks Institute (WSBI), 83 years ago on the occasion of its foundation. The World Thrift Day honours the essence of thrift as well as the virtue of thrift as prerequisite for financial stability and economic growth. Furthermore it recognizes the importance of savings banks in their role as promoters and facilitators of savings.