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South Asia Region: Strengthening Payment, Remittances, and Securities Settlement Systems in South Asia
Challenge: Many countries in the South Asia Region face similar difficulties with respect to payment systems. The ability to share experiences, problems, and solutions across countries can strengthen and accelerate, through peer pressure, the policies that each nation adopts, as well as reduce the time and cost of modernization. The South Asia Payment and Securities Settlement Initiative (SAPI) originated from a high-level mandate from the South Asia Central Banks' Deputy Governors (Colombo meeting, July 2007) to replicate the successful experience with regional cooperation in payments...
El Salvador: Expanding Access to Financial Services through New Agency Banking Channels
FIRST provided TA to support authorities in El Salvador in developing a conducive legal and regulatory framework to expand access to financial services. Within the timeline of project implementation, the regulation on agency banking was enacted, allowing two banks to open a nonbank agent network. Just a few months after launching the innovative products, 484,128 basic banking transactions totaling nearly $45 million were processed through new channels. The project directly linked to the FSAP 2010 recommendations and was implemented during 2012-2013 with a total disbursement of $40,000...
West Bank and Gaza: Promoting financial stability through the establishment of a Deposit Insurance Scheme (DIS)
FIRST's initial support in the needs assessment for a Deposit Insurance Scheme (DIS) in West Bank and Gaza in 2009 has laid the foundation for the fully functioning DIS today. Challenge: A review of the banking sector by the World Bank in June 2008 underscored the vulnerability of the banking sector, due in part to the domination of foreign banks, which held nearly 40 percent of deposits and 65 percent of loans, and the absence of national currency, which posed interest rate risk and transfer risks. Given these structural risks and the growing amount of savings captured by the banks, the...
Nicaragua: Building Confidence in Financial Services by Improving Consumer Protection
FIRST provided assistance to the Superintendency of Banks and Other Financial Institutions of Nicaragua (SIBOIF), to develop a national program for improving consumer protection for the banking and microfinance sectors. With support from FIRST, a new consumer protection law that includes a financial services chapter was enacted and related transparency regulations to improve consumer confidence in the financial sector were drafted. The project directly linked to FSAP 2009 recommendations and was implemented during 2011-2013 with a total disbursement of $165,000. Challenge: The retail...

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