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ESBG believes financial inclusion should be tackled at national level

“Measures for financial inclusion have to be delivered at national level”, says ESBG. On the occasion of the conference “Improving Access to Basic Financial Services” organised yesterday by the European Commission (EC) and the publication of the EC report “Financial Services Provision and Prevention of Financial Exclusion”, the ESBG believes that the fight against financial exclusion has to be dealt with at the national level and stresses the importance of voluntary initiatives in this field.

In ESBG’s opinion, various tools should be used to increase citizens’ access to basic financial services. The ESBG members offer various products and services targeted at vulnerable groups in society. This offer ranges from specific savings products to payment solutions and credits. Concrete examples were given during the conference by a representative of the Spanish savings banks. The Spanish savings banks offer a range of products and services with the aim of facilitating access to financial services and maintain a very dense network of points of access throughout the country, facilitating thus the access to financial services of the population in all parts of Spain, including those which are scarcely populated.

Chris De Noose, ESBG Managing Director said: “Access to financial services can and should be increased in various ways: by offering specific products and services, by adequate information and by financial education and improving the level of financial literacy. ESBG and its members are at the forefront of the evolution in these fields. However, initiatives in this field should be taken on a voluntary level, and cannot be imposed on banks.”

ESBG members have throughout history created and have participated at numerous initiatives at local level, such as the “Finance et Pédagogie” initiative in France and the “Geld und Haushalt” initiative in Germany. At ESBG level, the conference “Optimal Consumer Information and Education in a Competitive Retail Banking World1”, organised by ESBG on 16 April 2008 also dedicated a specific session to the topic of financial education. These and other projects aim at increasing the level of financial literacy of European citizens and provide tools to manage the level of indebtedness of individuals and households.

“Since their creation Europe’s savings banks have put a close and long-term relationship with their clients at the top of their priorities. In addition to the abovementioned tools, this is a strong guarantee for financial inclusion of their clients”, concluded Chris De Noose.
Notes to the Editors

The European Savings Banks Group (ESBG) is an international banking association which represents one of the largest European retail banking networks, comprising about one third of the retail banking market in Europe with total assets of €5,215 billion (1 January 2006). The ESBG represents the interests of its members vis-à-vis the EU Institutions and generates, facilitates and manages high quality cross-border banking projects. ESBG members are typically savings and retail banks or associations thereof. They are often organised in decentralised networks and offer their services throughout their region. ESBG members banks have been reinvesting responsibly in their region for many decades and they are a distinct benchmark for corporate social responsibility activities throughout Europe and the world.

1 The proceedings of this conference are available at www.esbg.eu:// www.esbg.eu

Jeudi 5 Juin 2008

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