CGAP Pays Tribute to Visionary Leadership of BSP Governor Espenilla in Advancing Financial Inclusion

WASHINGTON, February 28, 2019 - The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) is deeply saddened by the death of Governor Nestor A. Espenilla Jr. of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on February 23, 2019. We express our sincerest condolences to the family of the late Governor Espenilla and his staff at the BSP.

“Governor Espenilla was a tireless champion for financial inclusion whose significant contributions to the regulatory, supervisory, and policy landscape will live on. At CGAP we share an enormous sense of loss, but also gratitude, for the privilege of having worked closely with such a visionary leader who has done so much to advance financial inclusion in the Philippines and beyond,” said CGAP CEO Greta Bull.

CGAP’s collaboration with Governor Espenilla, which began in the mid-2000’s, deepened with the formation of the G20’s Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI). The Philippines under his leadership has provided an important voice of experience on financial inclusion from the perspective a non-G20 emerging economy. Governor Espenilla was well known for his dedication to the GPFI’s work, ensuring that global standard-setting bodies (SSBs) understood how their standards and guidance affected access to and usage of formal financial services by poor people in countries all across the development spectrum.

He was a galvanizing presence at each of the SSBs and Innovative Financial Inclusion conferences, mounted biennially since 2012 by the GPFI and the Financial Stability Institute at the Bank for International Settlements. Testimony to the respect he commanded was that the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision tapped then-Deputy Governor Espenilla to chair its Financial Inclusion Workstream when it was first launched in 2013. “CGAP was honored to work as vice chair of the workstream alongside the Governor and his committed and empowered team. We are also proud to have jointly supported the Committee in the development of ground-breaking publications – the 2015 Range of Practice Report on Financial Inclusion and 2016 Financial Inclusion Guidance,” said CGAP’s Tim Lyman.

Governor Espenilla was a tireless advocate for the role of policy makers in balancing innovation in the marketplace against protecting potentially vulnerable people and ensuring that products benefit poor people, an issue he stressed often in interviews with CGAP.

Governor Espenilla’s tenure at BSP was marked by his personal commitment to responsible financial inclusion. As deputy governor, he pioneered the “test and learn” approach to regulation and supervision, allowing experimentation with both bank- and nonbank-based mobile money offerings under close BSP scrutiny, only bringing them under regulation when needed and fully informed by market and supervisory experience. He institutionalized a risk-based approach to proportionate regulation and supervision, allowing a wide range of BSP-supervised institutions to develop innovative business models and digitize their product offerings. He elevated financial consumer protection as a key BSP priority, closely linked to their financial inclusion efforts, and encouraged his staff to partner with CGAP on behavioral research to support the approach taken to market conduct regulation. As governor, he ensured that BSP continued to lead the digitization of the country’s retail payments system, providing a model for other countries committed to a more inclusive financial system.

Governor Espenilla’s contributions to financial inclusion will be deeply missed.

About CGAP

CGAP is an independent think tank that works to empower poor people to capture opportunities and build resilience through financial services. We test, learn and develop innovative solutions through practical research and active engagement with our partners on building responsible and inclusive financial systems that help move people out of poverty, protect their gains and advance global development goals. Housed at the World Bank, CGAP is supported by over 30 leading development organizations committed to making financial services meet the needs of poor people.