Queen Máxima of the Netherlands spoke to CNN’s Julia Chatterley about how financial inclusion will play an important role in the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to the pandemic, many things were forced to go virtual, and many chose to make their payments via their computers or cell phones. However, this put those disadvantaged into a more troubling spot as they don’t have the access to the technology to allow for such easy payments.
Her Majesty said that the health crisis quickly became an economic and social crisis, and she remarked that those in the developing countries have become “extremely vulnerable” during the pandemic because “they do not have access to the formal things that we take for granted.” She added that they also don’t have access to government safety nets or formal insurance.
Queen Máxima stressed that women have taken the burden on this issue, as well as farmers and rural people. In Sub Saharan Africa, “60 per cent of the businesses owned by women have seen a complete loss of their income; three times more loss of income than men,” the Queen pointed out.
The Queen also spoke about her work as the UN’s Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, and in particular, the success of financial inclusion in Pakistan. She said the country has been working to provide financial inclusion, specifically by creating a robust ID system. She praised them for changing regulations to make it easier for people to receive money via their phones and technology, as well.
Since 2011, those with a financial account across the globe has grown by 1.2 billion people, and financial inclusion has risen from 50 per cent to 70 per cent. However, there are still around 1.7 billion people who do not have any access to a financial institution like a bank.
The Queen compared financial inclusion to a road or railroad as it is what a country needs to include everyone into the economic system. She spoke about her role with the UN and how they have worked with several countries over the past decade to assist in providing financial inclusion for all and how technology plays a vital role.
Chatterley asked the Queen, based on her work with the UN, how the world can harness the progress that has been made with digitisation during COVID.
Her Majesty replied: “The issue is to really help countries really scale up. And really make this a reality and getting the cooperation between the public and the private sector going. And sometimes it takes a little bit of figuring out how the supply chains work, for example, in the farming sectors and the rural sectors, what happens with merchants. You know, how can we improve that side? How do we cater a lot more for women? I think there’s a lot more work we need to get done on what women need, why they use things and why they don’t. How can we incentivise them to actually save and take better credits and form them better? I think there’s a lot of things we need to learn also.”
Queen Máxima of the Netherlands became the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development in 2009.