Financial inclusion has come to the forefront of the development policy and reform agenda in Palestine since recently. A number of reforms introduced in the financial sector with a view to increasing financial inclusion reflect this emphasis. Such measures have embraced financial awareness and education, improvements in financial infrastructure and the legal and regulatory framework, financial consumer protection as well as the reform of the microfinance sector. Palestine represented by Palestine Monetary Authority (PMA) became a member of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) in 2010 recognizing the importance of advancing financial inclusion and the deriving benefits from global experience. PMA made a commitment under the Maya Declaration to formulate a National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS). Subsequent to the Maya Declaration, PMA signed an agreement for joint leadership with the Palestine Capital Markets Authority (PCMA) for the formulation of the proposed NFIS, which will cover the period 2018 – 2025, and created a National Steering Committee (NSC) to oversee the formulation of the strategy. The NFIS presented in this document not only fulfils PMA’s Maya commitment but also demonstrates the firm and increased determination of Palestine’s financial sector policymakers and stakeholders to approach the issues of financial inclusion in a more systematic manner.
The policymakers’ strong emphasis on financial inclusion reflects primarily two interrelated factors: increased understanding of the gravity of the financial exclusion problem in Palestine with greater availability of data, and greater recognition of the potentially transformative power of financial inclusion to address a number of pressing development needs of the majority of the people in Palestine. However, it is widely agreed that to realize the transformative power of financial inclusion, the level and the quality of financial inclusion must be substantially increased particularly among the low income people including women in particular and for the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).