Microfinance, an emergency savings net, and simpler, safer loans for vulnerable people were some of the initiatives to come out of the Financial Inclusion Industry Forum held yesterday in Auckland.
The forum, which was hosted by NZBA and supported by a range of community and government agencies, saw banks, insurers, and NGOs come together to develop strategies for improving people’s financial welfare.
Among the highlights to emerge from the think-tank were:
- Inclusive Banking Products and Services – led by the Banking Ombudsman, banks identified ways they could improve access to simpler, safer financing for vulnerable people to meet their needs.
- Emergency Savings – led by Commission for Financial Capability, there was a genuine desire to build a savings safety net for all New Zealanders and strong alignment across all the sectors to do this.
- Microfinance – led by Good Shepherd New Zealand, the organisations recognised they have common objectives and a complimentary set of skills, resource and experience. The group identified the need to take a more co-ordinated and systematic approach to both scale existing initiatives and fill gaps in the current offering.
- Cars & Car Finance – led by the Financial Services Federation, three key concepts were developed for vulnerable consumers to access safe, reliable and affordable vehicles: 1. An affordable ownership model, 2. A social leasing model and 3. A community ride-sharing model.
Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Kris Faafoi said the event was a first for New Zealand.
“I look at what has been achieved in one day and I am more convinced than ever that together we can stop the misery resulting from people having become trapped in bad financial situations.
“As a Government we have legislation underway to stop predatory lending and here today the community and financial sector is working on another piece of the puzzle that we need to solve - improving financial inclusion, both boosting people’s financial capability and creating safe and appropriate alternatives.”
Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni said crippling levels of debt blocked vulnerable families from home ownership, increasde stress levels and caused family problems.
“I welcome the financial services sector's initiative, to work collaboratively with NGOs and Government to offer safer lending and banking options.”
A report back on progress of the initiatives is expected by October.