Queen Máxima to visit Bangladesh to promote access to financial services

From the evening of Tuesday 9 July to Thursday 11 July, Her Majesty Queen Máxima will be visiting the People’s Republic of Bangladesh in her capacity as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA). Bangladesh is currently developing a national strategy to improve people's access to financial services. 

Queen Máxima will be visiting Bangladesh at the invitation of the country's government. Around 50% of adults in Bangladesh have a bank account or use other banking services, compared to only 31% in 2014 (Global Findex 2017). Despite this increase, still 58 million adults lack access to a current or savings account, insurance policies, loans or digital payments, limiting their opportunities for development. In Bangladesh only 36% of women have a bank account, compared to 65% of men. That’s a gap of 29% (Global Findex 2017). 

Queen Máxima will be speaking, among other things, about improving women's access to financial services. Ways of doing this include digitising the salary payments and supporting women entrepreneurs. She will also speak about the importance of introducing a national identity system and linking it to digital payment platforms. The Bangladeshi National Strategy for Inclusive Finance (NFIS) will also be on the agenda. 

On Wednesday 10 July Queen Máxima will first meet with development partners and representatives of the fintech sector at the local UN office. Queen Máxima will then visit a representative of iPay, which has developed the iPay e-wallet that customers can install on their smartphone and use to make online payments. The Queen's last visit will be to ShopUp, a business that helps small enterprises to sell their products via Facebook. ShopUp also gives advice on running a business and applying for loans to fund business expansion. 

On Thursday 11 July Queen Máxima will participate in a roundtable meeting with private sector representatives. She will then have a series of meetings with the Governor of the Bangladesh Bank, Fazle Kabir, the Minister of Post and Telecommunication, Mustafa Jabbar, and a delegation from the Ministry of Finance. Meetings on inclusive finance and the NFIS are also planned with the President of Bangladesh, Mohammad Abdul Hanid, and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed. 

Her Majesty last visited Bangladesh in her capacity as UNSGSA in November 2015 (Government Information Service press release no. 360, 2015). 

Queen Máxima was appointed UNSGSA in 2009, in which capacity she advises the UN Secretary-General and works worldwide to make safe and affordable financial services available to all, including low-income groups and small and medium-sized enterprises. She has been honorary patron of the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI) since 2011.

Around 50% of adults in Bangladesh have a bank account or use other banking services, compared to only 31% in 2014.