Since 2016, under the guidance of the Plan for Advancing Inclusive Finance Development (2016-2020), financial inclusion, a critical part of China's national strategies, has witnessed great progress and remarkable achievements. Taizhou City of Zhejiang Province, as the National Microfinance Reform and Innovation Pilot Zone, has provided inspiration for building a high-quality inclusive financial system.
2021 marks the beginning of a second five-year for advancing inclusive finance. On December 16, Financial Inclusion Boosting Common Prosperity—2021 International Forum for China Financial Inclusion (IFCFI) was held online. The opening ceremony was chaired by Duoguang Bei, President of the Chinese Academy of Financial Inclusion at Renmin University of China（CAFI）, and Liangping Xu, Member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Taizhou Municipal Committee and First Deputy Mayor, made opening remarks.
The following speakers delivered speeches via video link: Congjiu Zhu, Vice Governor of the People’s Government of Zhejiang Province, Guiping Liu, Member of the CPC Committee and Deputy Governor of the People’s Bank of China, Wei Wang, Member of the CPC Committee and Executive Director and Executive Vice President of Bank of China, and Xiaoqiu Wu, former Vice President of Renmin University of China and Co-chair of the CAFI Council.
In his keynote speech, Congjiu Zhu introduced the development of financial inclusion in Zhejiang Province. “Zhejiang Province is one of the pioneers in China to promote financial inclusion. It has conducted several pilot programs supported by the State Council, such as the microfinance reform in Taizhou, insurance innovation and financial inclusion reform in Ningbo, the comprehensive financial reform in Wenzhou and the rural financial reform in Lishui. Zhejiang has taken the lead in exploring new ways and has accumulated good practice in financial inclusion, such as Taizhou’s Credit Guarantee Fund for MSEs, Wenzhou’s first-time loan system for MSEs, and Ningbo’s government-insurance company empowered modern social governance,” said Zhu.
“To facilitate common prosperity with high-quality development of financial inclusion, we should continuously improve the quality and effectiveness of financial services for the general public, in particular help more low-income people join the ranks of the middle-income group. Specifically, efforts should be made to improve financial services for MSEs so as to narrow the income gap, to integrate financial inclusion into the rural revitalization strategy for narrowing the urban-rural gap, to build pilot zones for inclusive financial reform to narrow the regional gap, to expand the channels for offering financial services to the key groups to improve people's livelihood and welfare, to cultivate a good financial culture to promote cultural prosperity,” Guiping Liu pointed out in his speech.
Microfinance reform in Taizhou, known as the “Taizhou model”, serves as a best practice of financial inclusion in China. Three local urban commercial banks continuously provide financial resources for the 740,000 market entities in Taizhou, creating a model of effective government, moderate competition, valued credibility, and efficient linkage”, which has received the attention and instructions from national leaders. In 2021 IFCFI, representatives of the financial sector in Zhejiang Province launched the “Taizhou Initiative on Financial Inclusion Boosting Common Prosperity”, reiterating their determination to boost the real economy with financial inclusion for common prosperity.
The “Taizhou model” inspired discussions among the participants on building a high-quality inclusive financial ecosystem. In the session of “Expert Dialogue: The Historical Mission of Financial Inclusion in the New Development Paradigm”, several experts fully exchanged their views on how to achieve financial inclusion based on specific conditions, solve the last-mile problem in financial inclusion, and continuously enrich financial inclusion by incorporating more high-quality financial services. Panelists joining the dialogue are Guangshao Tu, Executive Director of the Board of Directors of Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance (SAIF), Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Dongrong Li, President of National Internet Finance Association of China (NIFA), Yang Li, Board Chair of National Institution for Finance & Development, Lili Jin, Deputy Party Secretary of CPC and Director of Zhejiang Rural Credit Union, Shirley Yu, Senior Vice President and Group General Manager of Visa Greater China, Xiaolong Jin, Party Secretary and Chairman and the Legal Representative of MYBank. As the moderator, Duoguang Bei said, “In the context of increasingly improved inclusive financial infrastructures, such as information-sharing platforms and payment systems, and bank credits covering the MSMEs and vulnerable groups, efforts can be more directed to the areas including inclusive insurance, venture capital, and multi-level capital markets, so as to build a relatively complete inclusive financial ecosystem in the next five years.”
On behalf of the research team, CAFI researcher Dr. Lianyun Zeng officially released Building an Inclusive Financial Ecosystem - The Report of Financial Inclusion Development in China (2021) (hereby referred to as “the Report”). The Report provides a pertinent analysis of the progress of financial inclusion over the past five years and puts forward suggestions for the future development direction. Besides, this conclusive and forward-looking report covers the following topics, pilot zones for inclusive financial reform, rural stations for financial inclusion, the role of digital technology, inclusive insurance, support of the capital market, inclusive venture capital; the report presents the idea of building an inclusive financial ecosystem advocated by CAFI research team led by President Duoguang Bei.
Four panels and the Qiantang River Forum were held in the afternoon of December 16, including Panel I: Integration of Traditional and Digital Finance, Panel II: Rural Finance and Rural Revitalization, Panel III: Inclusive Financial Ecosystem Enabling Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and Panel IV: Developing Green Finance to Promote Carbon Neutrality.
The goal of financial inclusion is to achieve common prosperity, which requires perseverance, determination, and foresightedness. As a financial event and a platform for multi-party dialogues, the 7-year-old IFCFI will continue to share cutting-edge views and address real problems, provide pragmatic recommendations so as to enable financial inclusion to assume a greater historical mission in the next five years and enhance the wellbeing for all.