At the 41st FELABAN Annual Assembly IIC Highlights Its Role As A Multilateral Finance Institution

11/04/2007

Panel reviews survey on access to banking services in Latin America

Miami, USA – On November 5, 2007, the Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC) participated in the panel on Promoting Access to Financial Services: Findings on Banking the Unbanked in Latin America, an ambitious study sponsored by the Federation of Latin American Banks (FELABAN). The survey covers all the key facets of this vitally important item on the agenda of Latin American banking associations and individual banks.

The IIC stressed the effort made by the international banking community and what has been learned over the past few years as financial institutions seek to enter or expand services to the microfinance sector, as happened previously with project finance and asset-based products and services. It acknowledged that much remains to be done, both in downscaling and in upscaling.

As for enhancing the scope and depth of financial services, the IIC stressed the progress made and the interest expressed by the banking sector in providing SMEs with appropriate products. It noted, however, that one of the questions most frequently asked of the IIC is "How can we do this profitably?"

The IIC also pointed out that in order to meet these needs and reach a broader majority, the region’s banking community and regulatory authorities need to address the problem posed by informal banking and the lack of collateral.

The Corporation mentioned that regional institutions such as FELABAN, domestic banking institutions and associations, and development finance agencies need to foster good practices among their members, help disseminate knowledge, and lower or eliminate the barriers that banks and their clients face for entering the formal banking sector. The IIC also explained that it is developing programs such as its Small Business Revolving Line and the FINPYME Program as new initiatives that seek to provide new solutions for the problems that the region’s SMEs face in obtaining medium- and long-term financing.

The survey was analyzed by Dr. Liliana Rojas-Suárez, Chairwoman of the Latin-American Shadow Financial Regulatory Committee (LASFR). She discussed such issues as what access to banking services means, how available these services are in individual nations, the restrictions that banks and their clients face in gaining access to the formal banking sector, the progress that individual nations are making in this area, and other issues covered by the survey.

The panel was moderated by the President of FELABAN, Mr. Fernando Pozo Crespo. The panelists were Mr. Carlos Roa, IIC Financial Institutions and Structured Finance Coordinator; Mr. Manuel Méndez del Río, Chairman of the BBVA Microfinance Foundation; Mr. Atul Mehta, Director of the Latin America and Caribbean Department at the International Finance Corporation (IFC); Mr. Zenón Biagosch, Director of the Central Bank of Argentina; and Mr. José Maria Ayuso, Executive Vice President Visa International, LAC Region.

The Inter-American Investment Corporation is a multilateral financial institution that is a member of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Group. It provides financing (in the form of equity investments, loans, guarantees, and other instruments) and advisory services to private enterprises in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IIC’s mission is to promote the economic development of its regional member countries by encouraging the establishment, expansion, and modernization of private enterprises, particularly those that are small and medium in size. For more information on the IIC’s activities, please visit www.iic.int.

Contact: Carlos Roa/Sylvia Szankay

Telephone: (202) 251-9913/(202) 623-3878

Email: carlosroa@iadb.org/sylviasz@iadb.org