Daily Archives: May 16, 2018

Smart Campaign Reaches Milestone with 100 Certifications in Financial Consumer Protection

The certification of 100 financial service providers, collectively serving more than 42 million low-income clients worldwide, marks major achievement for financial inclusion.

WASHINGTON, May 15, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — The Smart Campaign, the leading industry voice on financial consumer protection, housed at the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion, announced today that 100 financial service providers (FSPs) have attained Smart Certification, a landmark achievement in responsible financial inclusion.

The Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion. (PRNewsFoto/Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion) (PRNewsFoto/)

The Smart Campaign works globally to create an environment in which financial services are delivered safely and responsibly to low-income clients. The Campaign launched the certification program in 2013 as a way for FSPs to align their policies and practices with industry-accepted Client Protection Principles, which articulate standards for product design and delivery, prevention of over-indebtedness, transparency, responsible pricing, treatment of clients, data privacy, and complaint resolution. In just five years of offering Smart Certification, 100 FSPs have successfully undergone the rigorous certification process, resulting in greater protection for more than 42 million low-income clients globally.

“Reaching this milestone and seeing the continued interest for certification from a wide range of providers – including fintech startups – is very encouraging,” said Isabelle Barrès, Director of the Smart Campaign. “It demonstrates that protecting consumers and building trust maximizes benefits for both the client and the companies that serve them.”

The certified FSPs are spread throughout Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe. The momentum for certification signals that the industry increasingly values client protection not only for the sake of clients, but also because certification streamlines the business practices of FSPs. In a recent survey of certified institutions, 96% of providers agreed that certification helped them better prioritize client protection and 93% noted a clearer alignment between the institution’s culture and its social mission. Another benefit called out by certified FSPs includes increased recognition from clients, regulators, and potential investors. Increasingly, consumer protection is rightfully seen as a business strategy.

The Smart Campaign. (PRNewsFoto/The Smart Campaign) (PRNewsFoto/)

The Smart Campaign will continue its standard-setting and certification efforts with philanthropic support from a wide range of partners. In addition to advancing certification, the Campaign will also work to elevate the client voice in an increasingly digital world, shed light on emerging client risks, and convene policymakers and other stakeholders to effect change at the national level in the countries in which it has certified organizations.

About The Smart Campaign

The Smart Campaign works globally to create an environment in which financial services are delivered safely and responsibly to low-income clients. As the world’s first financial consumer protection standard, the Campaign maintains a rigorous certification program, elevates the client voice, and convenes partners to effect change at the national level. Over 100 financial institutions, collectively serving more than 42 million people, have been certified for adhering to the Campaign’s industry-accepted consumer protection standards. More at www.smartcampaign.org.

About the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion

The Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion (CFI) is an action-oriented think tank that engages and challenges the industry to better serve, protect and empower clients. We develop insights, advocate on behalf of clients and collaborate with stakeholders to achieve a comprehensive vision for financial inclusion. We are dedicated to enabling 3 billion people who are left out of – or poorly served by – the financial sector to improve their lives.




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Kenya Approves Controversial Cybercrimes Law

Kenya has approved a controversial new cybercrimes law that threatens heavy penalties for people who abuse others via social media � and that some critics contend could be used to stifle freedom of expression.

Among other things, the computer and cybercrimes legislation� which President Uhuru Kenyatta signed into law on Wednesday � makes it a crime to publish so-called false information, with hefty fines and prison terms for those found guilty.

The law does not spell out what considers false information, saying only that it’s a criminal offense to intentionally publish false, misleading or fictitious data, or to intentionally misinform. Violators could face fines of up to almost $50,000 or two years in prison, or both.

Joe Mucheru, Kenya’s cabinet secretary for information, communication and technology, said his ministry spent more than two years getting the bill through parliament.

“There was a push to get this bill in place, especially with some of the nuisances that come in with the use this technology,” Mucheru said. He said some people “are insecure because of cyber-bullying. Some have lost money, others are writing fake news about them.”

Mucheru said the law was both necessary and constitutional.

“This technology is transforming our lives; we must have laws,” he said. ” The constitution provides very clearly the freedoms of media, so this law has not gone against any of the constitutional requirements that we have already in place.”

Last week, the Committee to Protect Journalists released a statement urging Kenyatta against signing the bill, saying it would “stifle press freedom.”

Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, said that the legislation “will criminalize free speech, with journalists and bloggers likely to be among the first victims if it is signed into law.”

Robert Alai, a Kenyan blogger who has been arrested several times for his comments on social media, considers the law too vague.

“When you talk of fake news, this is an issue still under discussion,” Alai said. “… No state has clearly stated what is fake news. Something which is fake to me may not be fake to you. Some people brand everything they do not agree with as fake news. The law is not fair.

Alai said aspects of the law would greatly affect Kenyans’ freedom of expression.

The real media now is the individual who is holding a phone. That is the media which is going to be affected,” he said. “That is the media which is trying to be intimidated through this law.

The law covers crimes such as cyber-espionage, identity theft and child pornography as well, mandating long prison terms and heavy fines for those found guilty. The new law also allows authorities to search and seize stored computer data, and to collect and intercept data in real time.

Source: Voice of America

Nigeria’s Parliament Passes Record 9.12T Naira 2018 Budget

Nigeria’s parliament passed a record 9.12 trillion naira ($29.8 billion) budget for 2018 on Wednesday aimed at boosting growth in West Africa’s biggest economy nine months before the country’s next presidential election.

Growth remains fragile after Africa’s top crude oil producer last year emerged from its first recession in 25 years. The recession was largely caused by low crude prices and militant attacks on energy facilities since oil sales make up two-thirds of government revenue.

The total sum laid out in the spending plan passed by the Senate is higher than the 8.6 trillion naira budget presented to parliament by President Muhammadu Buhari in November.

The budget was passed by the Senate, the upper chamber, and by lawmakers in the lower House of Representatives shortly afterwards. The budget still needs to be returned to Buhari to be signed into law.

“We must grow our economy away from oil. Hopefully, the current budget, when signed into law, should help us in this regard,” said Senate President Bukola Saraki.

Senate lawmakers said the increase from the plan presented by Buhari six months ago was due to the assumed oil price rising to $51 per barrel, up from $45 in Buhari’s earlier version.

The budget assumes crude oil production of 2.3 million barrels per day and an exchange rate of 305 naira per dollar. Brent crude stood at $78.43 per barrel by 1643 GMT.

“We still consider the oil price benchmark to be rather conservative given this year’s oil price outlook and would have preferred to see a steeper hike accompanied by lower borrowing,” said Olalekan Olabode, an economist at Lagos investment firm Vetiva Capital.

The budget proposes the use of 2.2 trillion naira to service debts and would operate a deficit of 1.73 percent of gross domestic product this year.

Delays in passing budgets, amid wrangling between the executive and legislature, are common in Nigeria and hindered the implementation of Buhari’s previous spending plans.

Buhari, who took office in 2015, plans to seek a second term in next February’s election. His handling the economy is likely to be a major campaign issue.

Budgets under Buhari, who took office in May 2015, have been Nigeria’s largest ever. But economists say implementation has been poor and failed to provide the type of capital expenditure needed to improve infrastructure.

“The implementation of fiscal policy is still weak and this year there is an additional risk of unproductive spending in the lead up to the election,” said Cobus de Hart, a senior economist at South Africa’s NKC African Economics.

Source: Voice of America