Bangladesh, with a growing, vibrant economy and a large population, offers unique opportunities to create innovative solutions that can have a positive impact on the lives of millions, including the poor and marginalized groups. One such opportunity lies in the inclusive financial services sector. In fact, the annual revenue potential of inclusive financial services for formal financial institution in Bangladesh is estimated to reach US$ 2.3 billion by 2020.
The expansion of the formal financial sector can significantly contribute to income growth and job creation by making financial services and products more affordable and accessible to the unbanked population, which tend to be the poor and the marginalized. Globally, the inclusive financial services paradigm has become an integral part of national and global development agendas. In many development programs, it has become a means to acquiring electricity and water supply; livelihood improvement; inclusive growth and equality; financial, economic and social stability; and even sustainable development.
However, the lack of access to inclusive financial services is a fundamental obstacle to development, be it in agriculture, manufacturing or RMG sector. The constraints that restrict access to and use of financial services exist both on the demand size (farmers, SMEs, and households) as well as the supply side (commercial banks and microfinance institutions). In order to sustain economic growth across various sectors, it is imperative that financial inclusion efforts seek to ensure that all households and businesses, regardless of income level, have access to and can effectively use appropriate financial services they need in order to improve their lives.
In light of the said opportunity, ULAB and bKash hosted a one-day industry and academic conference, the 2019 Financial Inclusion Summit. It was an attempt to discuss and understand solutions to prevalent challenges, business opportunities and growth potential of financial inclusion in Bangladesh. The panel discussions, presentations and speeches highlighted knowledge and best practices. The event also provided partnership opportunities to different actors, e.g., the government, development agencies, banking sector, and academia, in Bangladesh and other countries, to drive future programming, knowledge creation, and business development.
The event was attended by 170 participants from academia, banks, corporates, donor organizations, government organizations, NGO and INGO representatives, consultants and media persons.