ESSELINA MACOME

Mozambique 2020 | FINANCE | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Esselina Macome, CEO of Financial Sector Deepening Moçambique, on the role and mission of the organization, financial inclusion, and priorities for the year ahead.

Can you explain the role and mission of FSD Mozambique?

Financial Sector Deepening Moçambique (FSDMoç) was established in 2014 with the aim to support and facilitate the development of inclusive financial markets in Mozambique, with UK DFID and Sweden Sida support. FSDMoç recognizes the need for a greater focus on financial sector offering quality services that enable resilience and economic empowerment for all Mozambicans. To this end, it conducts research, evidence, and data analysis to help market actors to better understand the needs of (demand side) smallholder farmers, small businesses, women, youth and rural communities. This way, it contributes to the provision of knowledge and know-how to our partners and others, to build the business case for providing appropriate, affordable and accessible financial services and products. We work in close collaboration with government agencies and authorities, regulators, private sector actors, and development partners to support the development of a financial sector (banking, non-banking players including insurance, mobile wallets, and capital market) that meaningfully addresses the needs of low-income people and smaller and medium enterprises.

What progress have you seen in recent years in terms of financial inclusion in Mozambique?

Mozambique has a National Financial Inclusion Strategy (2016-2022). This is a strong signal that the country recognizes the importance of financial inclusion for the social and economic development of the country and its citizens. The last financial inclusion consumer survey (Finscope 2014) data, showed that only about of 20% of adult Mozambicans had a bank account. Based on this information a joint effort from the government, regulators, financial service providers, and other organizations like FSDMoç work together to contribute to the improvement of financial inclusion indicators. We understand financial inclusion in three dimensions, namely access, usage and quality of people's life. We are now analyzing Finscope 2019 data and we expect good news. Another source is the Financial Inclusion Report 2018 produced by the Central Bank which indicates an improvement on access to bank account by 32% of the adult population and more than 50% uses Mobile Money accounts. Other interesting fact is that both banks and insurance companies are increasingly offering digital solutions, extending their services far beyond the limits of their physical presence. We are also working on insurance penetration to respond to the needed of low-income segments. Despite these visible achievements, we still have more to do, particularly when it comes to as areas like: (i) increasing the usage of financial services and products; (ii) access to capital markets as an alternative finance sources for SMEs; (iii) financial products must be practical; (iv) financial inclusion must improve the quality of life. In the area of innovation, in 2018 the Central Bank, in partnership with FSDMoç, launched a regulatory sandbox– the 2nd in Africa. This initiative is promoting innovations developed by Fintech companies, under the supervision of the central bank, to strengthen the regulatory approaches necessary to be supportive and adaptive to those innovations. FSDMoç is also building the Fintech Ecosystem through the establishment of a Fintech Association and the provision of technical assistance and capacity strengthening on digital financial services. The central bank has recently launched the 2nd edition of the sandbox. Financial inclusion must also address issues of practicality of the service, in other words whether the financial services respond to a general demand and whether the beneficiaries have the means to use that service. The expansion of mobile money and emergency of a new category of actors, such as fintech payment aggregators, plays a key role in this. Financial inclusion is inextricably linked to development; in this area, we still have a long way to go. While the work of FSD initially favored access to services, this quality of life angle on financial inclusion is becoming increasingly important in our work. We are now trying to respond to how we link to the sustainable development goals and climate change and financial inclusion.

What are the priorities for FSD in 2020?

We do have a new strategy called FSD 2.0—which is a new phase of financial sector development. FSD2.0 is the name given to the new guiding vision adopted by the Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Network in 2019, composed of 10 FSD in Africa, in order to express our view of contributing more to the second (usage) and third (quality of life) dimensions of financial inclusion. Our priority for 2020 is whereby we intend to focus on sustainable development and agriculture, the primary source of employment in the country. The need to expand levels of people's and companies' access to formal financial services in Mozambique. Under the new FSD 2.0, the priority areas are: (i) Investments, in this area the development of the capital market will be a key dimension, (ii) access/usage, the digitalization as a mechanism to reach underserved people with impairment from financial and basic services (iii) stability and integrity with more emphasis on data privacy and protection, digital ID, cybersecurity (iv) innovation. The academic community should play an important role in strengthening digital financial service professionals, equipping them with skills and technologies such as the blockchain and artificial intelligence. We started this year taking part in the UK-Africa summit, whereby our financial support from the UK government was renewed for the next five years. This commitment represents the start of an important new approach to financial sector development in sub-Saharan Africa. The package from UK Aid recognizes that a comprehensive, integrated approach to financial market development in Africa is required to realize the continent's potential and help meet the United Nation's global goals. We will continue work with all the key players and with our partners in the development of more inclusive affordable financial products and service which address the needs to the majority of the Mozambicans.