SPTF Moves to Create Standards for Digital Financial Services

SPTF Moves to Create Standards for Digital Financial Services

Over the past few years, it has become clear that there is a need to develop management standards to ensure digital financial services (DFS) protect and benefit clients. This has only become more urgent during COVID, as traditional MFIs increasingly turned to DFS to reach clients remotely. While DFS can increase outreach to harder-to-reach clients, it also poses several risks, such as increased over-indebtedness and a lack of data privacy.  

SPTF’s effort to develop DFS standards will not start from scratch. The industry has been gathering best practices and identifying risks for several years now: regulators in various countries have begun outlining policies to address DFS risks, the former Smart Campaign created guidelines for responsible digital credit, the IFC has created high-level principles for responsible lending in digital finance, GOGLA has created standards for PayGos, and GSMA has created standards for MNOs.  However, these efforts have focused on certain products or certain types of lenders. The topic has also been ever-present in industry discussions – webinars, conferences – but these conversations have not yet led to a clear articulation of specific, actionable management practices.  

SPTF wants to bring stakeholders and experts together under a Digital Financial Services Working Group to take these best practices and conversations and create comprehensive standards for providing digital financial services in a way that protects and benefits clients.  

Process for creating DFS Standards:

  1. Document Review. What regulation already exists? What standards have already been put forth? What risks have already been identified by the industry? 
  2. Interview with FSPs that are digitalizing. What has worked or not worked, and why? What have you learned from failures? 
  3. Expert interviews. What are the common challenges you encounter?  
  4. Synthesize analysis  
  5. Convene a Working Group to translate analysis into standards   
  6. Create an optional module for the SPI tool. Allowing FSPs to assess progress toward meeting the DFS standards. 

If you have any questions or feedback, you can contact Katie Hoffmann or Amelia Greenberg.

Source: SPTF