Accelerating Financial Inclusion

The Bellagio Working Group: Tackling Digital Financial Inclusion One Zoom Call at a Time

ConsumerCentriX is producing a short blog series on the Bellagio Working Group. This is the first blog in the series. Over the coming weeks and months, stay tuned for new insights into new regulatory laws and technological transformations happening in Nigeria, Indonesia, and Egypt.

By Kavita Bali, Advisor to ConsumerCentriX

In early 2019, ConsumerCentriX thought carefully about how we could make an outsized impact in accelerating financial inclusion. After years of collaborating with regulators around the world through the implementation of various initiatives aimed at increasing access to financial products and services among the un- and under-served, Partner Anna Gincherman kept coming back to the same thought. Innovations in digital financial services happen so fast, yet the same challenges on the ground seem to persist across markets. Many of the solutions to accelerating digital financial inclusion take root in local markets, but there are few fora for policy makers to openly share their challenges and collaborate to jointly problem solve in real time.

With that in mind, in July 2019, ConsumerCentriX convened an intimate group of senior financial sector policymakers and regulators at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center for a week. Senior regulators from three of critical markets—Egypt, Nigeria, and Indonesia—along with digital experts from India, China, and Estonia, joined for a closed-door working session entitled, “Practical Solutions to Accelerating Digital Financial Services for Inclusive Economies.” We chose to include these markets because of their early successes in leveraging technology for financial inclusion and because they represent the greatest potential to enact forward thinking regulations for the greatest number of people.

At the conclusion of the meeting, participants commented that the knowledge-sharing and collaboration fostered throughout the week was distinct from any other forum. The interactive discussions void of external distractions were cited as critical to their ability to think differently about the current challenges they are grappling with within their respective markets and offered access to new resources needed to solve these challenges.

Identifying Practical Solutions for Regulators to Accelerate Financial Inclusion

We convened key regulators from Nigeria, Egypt, and Indonesia to share lessons among peers and draw inspiration from digital and policy innovation in India, China and Estonia – resulting roadmaps gave new momentum to financial inclusion.


“I think the brainstorming sessions were the strongest elements of this program. It is more than just having a conversation. You learn how to implement what you’ve learned, and you begin leveraging these new relationships to make an impact in your country,” said Aishah Ahmad, Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria

Despite their incredibly busy agendas, participants expressed a desire to reconvene periodically and asked the ConsumerCentriX team to continue to facilitate the group’s collaboration and progress. With generous support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Bellagio Working Group on Digital Financial Inclusion was continued in the spring of 2020 and planned for additional in-person meetings to facilitate continued group problem-solving around issues in digital financial inclusion.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bellagio Working Group has had to shift to fully remote operations. However,  that hasn’t stopped members from collaborating, sharing important lessons and continuing to work together to find viable solutions. From discussions on how to ensure vulnerable communities aren’t further marginalized during the pandemic to sharing recent regulatory changes to improve banking laws to strategizing on how to leverage technologies such as QR codes for improved customer transactions, the Bellagio Working Group is tackling the challenges of advancing financial inclusion in dynamic markets one Zoom call at a time.

Practical Solutions for Regulators, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Identifying Practical Solutions for Regulators

In July 2019, CCX Inclusive Business (CCX), in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, convened a small number of senior financial sector policy-makers and regulators at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center. Participants from three of the most important markets—Egypt, Nigeria, and Indonesia—along with experts from India, China, and Estonia, joined for a working meeting entitled, “Practical Solutions to Accelerating Digital Financial Services for Inclusive Economies.”