The Smart Campaign, the leading industry voice on financial consumer protection, housed at the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion, announced today that 100 financial service providers (FSPs) have attained Smart Certification, a landmark achievement in responsible financial inclusion.
The Smart Campaign works globally to create an environment in which financial services are delivered safely and responsibly to low-income clients. The Campaign launched the certification program in 2013 as a way for FSPs to align their policies and practices with industry-accepted Client Protection Principles, which articulate standards for product design and delivery, prevention of over-indebtedness, transparency, responsible pricing, treatment of clients, data privacy, and complaint resolution. In just five years of offering Smart Certification, 100 FSPs have successfully undergone the rigorous certification process, resulting in greater protection for more than 42 million low-income clients globally.
« Reaching this milestone and seeing the continued interest for certification from a wide range of providers – including fintech startups – is very encouraging, » said Isabelle Barrès, Director of the Smart Campaign. « It demonstrates that protecting consumers and building trust maximizes benefits for both the client and the companies that serve them. »
The certified FSPs are spread throughout Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe. The momentum for certification signals that the industry increasingly values client protection not only for the sake of clients, but also because certification streamlines the business practices of FSPs. In a recent survey of certified institutions, 96% of providers agreed that certification helped them better prioritize client protection and 93% noted a clearer alignment between the institution’s culture and its social mission. Another benefit called out by certified FSPs includes increased recognition from clients, regulators, and potential investors. Increasingly, consumer protection is rightfully seen as a business strategy.
The Smart Campaign will continue its standard-setting and certification efforts with philanthropic support from a wide range of partners. In addition to advancing certification, the Campaign will also work to elevate the client voice in an increasingly digital world, shed light on emerging client risks, and convene policymakers and other stakeholders to effect change at the national level in the countries in which it has certified organizations.