Queen Máxima to visit India to discuss access to financial services

Her Majesty Queen Máxima is to visit the Republic of India from Monday 28 to Wednesday 30 May in her capacity as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development.

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Queen Máxima with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Queen Máxima is visiting India on the invitation of the government to follow up her visit in 2014. One of her focuses will be India’s pioneering role in inclusive finance. The latest World Bank Group figures show that 80% of Indian adults now have a bank account. This is a significant increase compared to 2014, when only 53% had an account. The gap in access to an account between men and women has also shrunk from 20% in 2014 to 6% now. However, a major concern continues to be actual use of a bank account. Though 80% of adults now have an account, only 48% make any use of it. (WB: Global Findex 2017).

For many years now, India has been committed to facilitating access for all to official financial services, for example by combining policy with a single digital infrastructure – the India Stack – that can be used by the government, market parties and private citizens. The India Stack comprises three main elements: first, a biometric digital identity (number combined with a fingerprint and iris scan); second, a virtual personal payment address for the payment of salary or social benefits (a combination of ID number, bank account number and mobile phone number); and third, a Unified Payment Interface, enabling money transfers to, for example, family members through the virtual payment address. To supplement the India Stack, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government launched the Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana programme in 2014. One of the aims of this national programme for inclusive finance is to ensure that every family in India has access to a bank account.In Delhi, Queen Máxima will have talks with representatives of NITI Aayog, the government think tank, and with the Indian Software Product Industry Round Table (iSPIRT), the think tank that masterminded the India Stack. Talks are also planned with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the interim finance minister, Mr Piyush Goyal, and with representatives of international development organisations and financial institutions. A field visit is planned to a project run by Aye Finance, an organisation that targets micro enterprises in a specific sector, such as the production of sports equipment. On the basis of digital information from the sector, the enterprise can acquire a loan that a mainstream bank would refuse. Aye Finance is developing mAye, an app enabling entrepreneurs to manage the day-to-day running of their enterprise, including acquisitions and sales, employee attendance and the status of their loan.

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Image: ©ANP / Robin Utrecht

On Wednesday 30 May Queen Máxima will visit Mumbai where she will attend a meeting of the CEO Partnership for Financial Inclusion. This informal partnership of ten international enterprises (Ant Financial, AXA, Bharti Airtel, Mastercard, PayPal, PepsiCo, Rabobank, Santander Bank, Telenor and Unilever) first met on the invitation of Queen Máxima during the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2018. The CEOs of these enterprises agreed to share their knowledge and experience of inclusive finance and to work together. The local CEOs will attend the meeting in Mumbai. Queen Máxima will also have talks with representatives of the private sector in India on the development of client-driven financial products. While in Mumbai, she will also visit the dabbawalas. Mumbai’s dabbawala hot lunch delivery system is unique to the city. The Mumbai Dabbawala Association works with the digital bank Paytm, which provides the dabbawalas with a digital bank account so that customers can pay for their lunches by mobile phone. This is safer and saves time.

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Image: ©ANP / Patrick van Katwijk

In September 2009 Queen Máxima was appointed the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA). In this capacity, she advises the Secretary-General, and works worldwide to make financial services accessible to all, including low-income groups and the SME sector. She has been honorary chair of the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI) since 2011.