The pinBox Washington D.C. Roundtable, 2017


Saving the Next Billion from Old Age Poverty: Global Lessons for Local Action

12 October 2017, Georgetown University Campus, Washington D.C.

On 12 October 2017, pinBox Solutions and the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University co-hosted the first global policy roundtable on digital microPension inclusion. The roundtable was co-sponsored by UNCDF, PFIP, CEM Benchmarking, Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion and microPension Foundation.

The roundtable featured the global launch of the new book titled Saving the Next Billion from Old Age Poverty: Global Lessons for Local Action. This book is co-edited by Parul Seth Khanna, William Price and Gautam Bhardwaj and features insights from 42 authors representing some 20 countries that have collaborated with pinBox on this global initiative.

This invitation-only roundtable was the first of a series of regional meetings aimed at jumpstarting a global dialogue and collaborative action on digital pension inclusion and coverage expansion in developing countries.

Senior policymakers and practitioners representing governments, central banks, pension regulators, insurers and pension funds, multilateral and bilateral aid agencies and think-tanks from over 30 countries participated in the October roundtable. They reviewed key learnings from past efforts in both financial and pension inclusion and discussed new ideas for expanding pension coverage to low income non-salaried informal sector workers. The book and the roundtable focused specifically on leveraging digital financial services infrastructure including ID and digital payments for pension inclusion and matching this with best practice in pension design to benefit the end-user.

An important objective of this forum was to help develop scalable and sustainable models and replicable strategies for delivering an integrated pension, insurance and payment solution to unbanked, informal sector individuals across countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the island nations in the Caribbean and Pacific regions.

ONE: Context

Coverage of formal pension or provident fund arrangements in most developing countries is restricted to salaried public and private sector employees. On average, such programs cover less than 15% of their paid workforce. The remaining workers, including farmers, small shopkeepers, daily wage earners, street vendors, domestic help and other non-salaried informal sector workers are usually excluded from formal pension arrangements. With rapidly rising life expectancy, most of the excluded informal sector workers will need to accumulate enough lifetime savings to support themselves for at least 20 years after they are too old to work. This may be hugely challenging as the majority of these workers usually face modest, intermittent incomes that may produce only tiny irregular savings for retirement. For a majority of these individuals therefore, and equally for the governments concerned, a vital issue is the management of the longevity risk with the cessation of earnings in old age. The opening session will set the context for the discussions on key design and implementation considerations for developing countries aiming to establish inclusive pension arrangements for their excluded citizens.


Registration and Breakfast


Opening remarks
Parul Seth Khanna
Director, pinBox Solutions


Overview of the key themes from the Book
William Joseph Price
Senior Financial Sector Specialist, Finance and Markets, World Bank Group


Special address
Dr. Joel Hellman
Dean, School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University


Keynote: Leveraging fintech to bridge the pension coverage gap
Sopnendu Mohanty
Chief Fintech Officer, Monetary Authority of Singapore


Inaugural address
Subhash C. Garg
Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs Ministry of Finance, Government of India


Global Book Release:
Saving the Next Billion from Old Age Poverty: Global Lessons for Local Action


Special Address on Digital payments and micro-pension inclusion
Raghu R. Malhotra
President, Middle East and Africa, Mastercard (via video)

TWO: Leveraging Existing Digital Financial Services Infrastructure for Pension Inclusion

Rapid advancements in IT, telecom and digital payments have had a powerful impact on the ability of governments to deliver targeted benefits to low income households. Simultaneously, technology is reshaping financial services access and delivery, especially for low income citizens. Pension exclusion, on the other hand, continues to be a gigantic fiscal and social challenge for many countries where nearly 90% of the workforce is excluded from formal pension programs. It is feasible to achieve universal access to contributory pension programs, and overcome the challenges with KYC and identity (for verifying ownership of benefits deep in the future) by integrating microPension systems with the national ID platform. Also, as pension policy and regulatory efforts gather momentum and begin succeeding at scale, millions of citizens in each developing country will need a secure, convenient and affordable mechanism to channel potentially tiny retirement savings, month after month over multiple decades, to regulated fund managers. This will directly impact both voluntary savings discipline and the value of benefits that subscribers receive. Digital (paperless and cashless) pension solutions will also lead to dramatically lower costs and fees and are therefore especially relevant for developing countries. In this session, three global experts will examine the role for ID, digital payments and insurance in expanding microPension coverage.


Dr. Margaret J. Miller
Global Lead, Financial Inclusion, The World Bank

Sopnendu Mohanty
Chief Fintech Officer, Monetary Authority of Singapore

Ernesto Brodersohn
Senior International Consultant

Ernest Amartey-Vondee
Director, National Pensions Regulatory Authority, Ghana

Dr. Shem Ouma
Chief Manager and Head of Strategy, Retirements Benefits Authority, Kenya

Doubell Chamberlain
Managing director, Centre for Financial Regulation & Inclusion, South Africa


Open discussion and questions


Coffee break

THREE: Building a Mass Market for Voluntary Pensions

Most of the critical elements of a solution needed for radical expansion of pension coverage to non-salaried informal sector workers already exists in many developing countries – biometric national IDs, digital payments, third-party outreach through bank agents and cooperatives, regulated fund management and insurance firms, a committed regulator, a large latent demand and strong political will. Countries that decide to launch a DC pension program based on voluntary individual accounts will therefore need to focus specifically on two key areas in addition to the design of the pension itself: (a) developing an IT platform capable of issuing and managing millions of portable individual pension accounts, financial services ecosystem integration (ID, payments, product providers), program administration, process automation, payments reconciliation and accounting, claims settlement, single-window uniform services access and enabling real-time monitoring of functional obligations and process compliance by service providers, and (b) establishing a dedicated “mission office” or PMU that is both responsible and empowered to implement an inclusive program and achieve mass-scale coverage and persistent savings in a mission mode. In this session, the authors will outline the key functionalities of a technology platform needed for pension coverage expansion and the experience with a mission office approach to managing the implementation of national programs. The mission office discussion will include U.K.’s experience with automatic enrolment and India’s financial inclusion effort that produced 250 million bank accounts in less than 2 years. The session will also include comments and real-life experiences from 5 countries that are implementing microPension programs for non-salaried workers.


Gautam Bhardwaj
Director, pinBox Solutions

Darren Ryder
Executive Director, The Pension Regulator, U.K.

Eric Rwigamba
Director General, Ministry of Finance, Republic of Rwanda

Dr. David Tuesta
Chief Economist, Financial Inclusion Unit, BBVA

David Nyakundi Bonyi
Chief Executive Officer, Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority, Uganda

Nzomo Mutuku
Chief Executive Officer, Retirement Benefits Authority, Kenya

Denton Rarawa
Governor, Central Bank of Solomon Islands

Dr. Javier Bronfman
Professor of Public Policy, School of Government, Adolfo Ibáñez University


Open discussion and questions


Lunch break

FOUR: Delivering Optimum Retirement Outcomes

Pension programs in most developing countries will target citizens with fragile labour market attachments, low intermittent incomes, frequent migration across jobs and locations and limited knowledge of and access to banking and other formal finance and payment services. The ability of low income informal sector workers to voluntarily lock-in savings over multiple decades would be further constrained by low insurance access and uptake. Developing countries would need to specifically focus on achieving low transaction costs to ensure that high fees and charges by intermediaries do not erode modest pension contributions. In this session, five global experts will share excerpts and key lessons from their chapters on financial capability, investment returns and governance, managing costs and designing suitable benefit structures. The session will also discuss learnings from formal pension programs including the 401k plans in the US for developing countries and equally lessons that OECD countries may draw from the innovations being observed in pension and financial inclusion across the developing world.


William Price
Senior Financial Sector Specialist, World Bank Group

Summary Insights: Product Design Considerations

Financial Capability and Retirement Literacy
Dr. Elisabeth Rhyne
Managing Director, Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion

Investment outcomes
John Ashcroft
Principal, JA Pension Consulting

Managing Costs
Mike Heale
Principal, CEM Benchmarking

Payout Options for Mitigating Longevity Risk
Evan Inglis
Senior Vice President, Nuveen Asset Management

Dr. Dorothee Franzen
Managing Director, Avida International, Germany

Learnings for and from OECD countries
J. P. Neal
Senior Consultant and Retirement Leader, Willis Towers Watson


Open discussion and questions


Coffee break

FIVE: Replicable Models and Collaborative Action

Achieving comprehensive coverage and sustained voluntary micro-savings discipline by millions of people with limited knowledge of and access to modern finance will require sustained energy, imagination and collaborative action on a variety of fronts by a range of stakeholders. Various multilateral and bilateral aid agencies are already actively supporting financial inclusion as well as pension reform and coverage expansion efforts of developing countries. It may be feasible (and desirable) for various aid agencies to pool resources for technical assistance and support for pension inclusion initiatives.


Paul Beckett
Washington Bureau Chief, The Wall Street Journal

Carlos Ramirez
President, CONSAR, Mexico

Md. Muslim Chowdhury
Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Government of Bangladesh

Loi Bakani
Governor, Bank of Papua New Guinea

Michael McCord
President, MicroInsurance Centre

Krishnan Narasimhan
Deputy Programme Manager, Pacific Financial Inclusion Program, UNCDF

Parul Seth Khanna
Director, pinBox Solutions


Open discussion and questions


Close of Roundtable | Reception

This event is by invitation only. Please contact if you would like to attend.


pinBox Solutions Pte. Ltd.
80 Robinson Road, #02-00
Singapore (068898)