Mass Financial Inclusion for All

India's technology stack relating to mass financial inclusion has resulted in nearly half a billion people with bank accounts in India, supplying them also with payment systems access, debit cards, basic insurance, social security payments, and more. This initiative has the potential to make a global impact on mass financial inclusion as we had hoped for in our Force for Good work. The international event regarding how India's financial inclusion technology stack has made a positive impact on India and how it can help the world achieve mass financial inclusion as India during its G20 presidency offers this technology to the rest of the world, hosted by Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj, Permanent Representative of India to the UN, in the UN ECOSOC Chamber, New York, on the 4th May 2023. This is hoped to be the beginning of a historic shift in the drive for global financial inclusion.

Statement of Interest: Mass Financial Inclusion is one of Force for Good's initiatives in the Transformational Impact Programme,and Force for Good's presentation and paper on the case for India to offer its technology stack to the world was first presented for consideration in February 2021, mentioned in the Capital as a Force for Good report 2021,and elaborated further in the Capital as a Force for Good report 2022.

Thursday, 4 May 2023, 1000 hrs EDT
ECOSOC Chamber, UN Headquarters

Financial inclusion symbolizes empowerment and equity. Financial inclusion is essential for communities to meet basic needs, such as nutritious food, clean water, housing, education, and health care. It is imperative to advance socio-economic development, particularly in the Global South, who have been faced with historic disadvantage.

Financial inclusion helps in meeting developmental needs in a responsible and sustainable way, including, inter alia, through transactions, payments, savings, credit and insurance. As proven recently, financial inclusion has a critical role in helping people prepare for, respond to and recover from crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and other economic and climate shocks.

The World Bank estimates that 76% of adults globally now have a bank account, financial institution, or with mobile money provider, up from 68% in 2017 and 51% in 2011. In developing economies, 71% of adults have a bank account, other financial institution, or with a mobile money provider, up from 63% in 2017 and 42% in 2011. The percentage of account ownership has increased by double digits in 34 countries since 2017.

While the improvement in numbers is a positive trend, gaps remain particularly in many developing countries. These gaps directly hamper service delivery and, ultimately, the pursuit of SDGs. Financial exclusion remains greatest among traditionally underserved groups, including the poor, women, smallholder farmers, and MSMEs

Technology and innovation are helping bridge the financial divide and making it possible for those in need to avail of low-cost and convenient financial services. Financial products across a variety of sectors can enable scaling up local and practical solutions towards achieving the SDGs, for which inclusion thus remains the key.

The COVID-19 pandemic played a role in spurring the use of digital payments and in bringing more people into the financial system. The rest, as they say, is history. To cite an example, the Reserve Bank of India estimates that in India, there were over 127 million digital transactions in the month of January 2023 worth over $600 billion.

Financial inclusion also has dual dimensions. In the Global South, to advance the development paradigm, it is important that individuals and businesses have equal access to financial products and services. In the global setting, equity demands fair representation of developing countries in the decision-making bodies of Bretton Woods institutions.

This India Roundtable will bring to center stage the role of Financial Inclusion on achieving the SDGs. It will be based on the Indian journey and experience, particularly in showcasing the ‘India Stack’, through open, digital public infrastructure that transformed the lives of billions of individuals and helped businesses promote financial and social inclusion. The objective will be to share real experiences with Member States and to discuss how these can be replicated at great speed and at affordable costs.

Guiding Questions:
  • What does financial inclusion mean in 2023, and how does it impact the livelihood of the common man?
  • What are the obstacles to financial inclusion, and what are the fundamental non-negotiables to respond to them? How can technology and innovation amplify the response?
  • What are digital public goods, and what does it mean for financial inclusion? What are the basic building blocks, and why is it important for developing countries to consider this?
  • How can existing solutions on financial inclusion be shared and scaled up, and what makes models from developing countries unique?
  • What role can the Bretton Woods institutions play in financial inclusion?
Opening Remarks: Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj, Permanent Representative
Keynote speaker: Dr. Arvind Panagariya, Professor at Columbia University
Panel Discussion
Moderator: Ms. Usha Rao Monari, Under-Secretary-General and Associate
Administrator of UNDP
  • H.E. Ambassador Arrmanatha Christiawan Nasir, Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the United Nations
  • Mr. Amandeep Singh Gill, Secretary-General's Envoy on Technology
  • Mr. Ketan Patel, Chair of Force for Good & CEO of Greater Pacific Capital
Q&A with Member States
Closing Remarks: Ambassador R. Ravindra, Deputy Permanent Representative

Arvind Panagariya is a Professor of Economics and Jagdish Bhagwati Professor of Indian Political Economy at Columbia University. From 2015 to 2017, he served as the first Vice Chairman of the NITI Aayog, Government of India, in the rank of cabinet minister. He was India’s G20 Sherpa during the presidencies of Turkey (2015), China (2016) and Germany (2017). He is a former Chief Economist of the Asian Development Bank and has worked with the World Bank, IMF and UNCTAD in various capacities. He holds a PhD in Economics from Princeton University and a Master’s in Economics from the University of Rajasthan. He is a prolific writer and has authored and edited numerous books and journals. In 2012, Professor Panagariya was honored with the Padma Bhushan, India’s third-highest civilian honor.

Ms. Rao-Monari has over 30 years of investment experience and has held several senior positions, particularly in infrastructure. She previously served as Senior Adviser to Blackstone’s Infrastructure Group, as Chief Executive Officer of Global Water Development Partners, a Blackstone portfolio company, and held several senior positions, notably as Director of the Sustainable Business Advisory Group at the International Finance Corporation, part of the World Bank Group. In addition, she has, until recently, served on the Boards of a number of organisations in the field of sustainable development and has held a number of Board and advisory positions.

Ambassador Nasir was Indonesia’s ambassador to France, Andorra, Monaco and to UNESCO from April 2019 to October 2021. He served as Spokesperson for Indonesia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and also formerly served as Advisor on economic issues and least developed countries to the President of the 65th session of the General Assembly. Among other positions within the Government of Indonesia, he was Deputy Director for Agriculture and Commodities at the Directorate General of Multilateral Affairs, from 2005 to 2008. Ambassador Nasir earned a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Indonesia; an MBA from Leicester University in the United Kingdom; and a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Buckingham, UK.

Mr. Amandeep Singh Gill is a thought leader on digital technology. He brings to the position a solid understanding of how to leverage digital transformation responsibly and inclusively for progress on Sustainable Development Goals. Mr. Gill was Executive Director and Co-Lead of the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation (2018-2019). Before taking up the position of Envoy, he was the Chief Executive Officer of the International Digital Health and Artificial Intelligence Research Collaborative project based at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva. Mr. Gill was formerly India’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva (2016-2018) and holds PhD in nuclear learning in multilateral forums from King’s College, London.

Ketan Patel is the founder and chairman of ‘Force for Good’, established in support of the UN Secretary General’s roadmap for sustainable development. He is the CEO and co-founder of Greater Pacific Capital, investing in high-growth enterprises making an impact sustainably and profitably. He was formerly a Managing Director at Goldman Sachs, heading the Strategic Group, providing strategic counsel to leaders from government and businesses worldwide. He was a partner and board member at KPMG, leading the Strategy and Business Transformation business. He is a leader and member of numerous initiatives on arts and science, and finance and has spoken at key events, including the World Investment Forum, COP26, and COP27. He studied Economics at the London School of Economics and Political Science, has an MBA and ACMA, and is the author of ‘The Master Strategist’.