Beyond Microfinance: Principles of Access to Finance

November 13, 2009
On this edition of the Wonkcast, I am joined by senior fellow Liliana Rojas-Suarez, who discusses her work as co-chair of the CGD Task Force on Access to Financial Services. Financial regulation—and access—is a hot topic right now, as countries try to reduce the chance of future financial crises, while also ensuring access to financial services. The US House and Senate are currently wrestling with exactly what a revamped US regulatory system should look like. Liliana explains that the balance between financial stability and increased access to finance is at the root of these debates, and in fact was central to the financial collapse itself. "Even in the United States," she explains, "many people did not have sufficient access to finance, and, well, nobody wanted to stop the provision of financial services. And that was creating a bubble that ended up in the largest crisis that we have seen in recent history." However, shifting too far the other way-- trying to ensure stability through strict banking regulation-- could deny billions of people around the world access to basic financial services (see David Roodman’s recent blog post examining recent estimates of the number of people who are financially un-served). Liliana and her task force came up with a set of ten principles that can help policymakers address that dilemma. "The unique thing about the principles is that it takes the forest, not just the trees," Liliana tells me. "It doesn't focus on one part of regulation, it basically looks at the entire forest of financial regulation and says, 'OK we want the system to be stable, but we also want the system to provide financial access.'" The principles fall into three general categories-- financial infrastructure, financial regulation, and other government policies. Listen to the podcast to hear Liliana explain them, and go read the Task Force's full report introducing the principles here. Have something to add to our discussion? Ideas for future interviews? Post a comment below. If you use iTunes, you can subscribe to get new episodes delivered straight to your computer every week.


CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.