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                                                                         Brussels, 28 October 2004

             On occasion of 80th World Thrift Day,
    savings banks continue to provide ideal vehicle to further
                    economic development.

In several countries, savings banks have proven to be instrumental in setting a vigorous
savings mobilisation policy. A combination of factors like proximity, accessibility,
attractive products and services and safety has proven a key to their success in mobilising
savings deposits, highlights a study1 conducted by Peachey & Roe and presented on the
occasion of the 11th WSBI (World Savings Banks Institute) Annual General Assembly
and the Access to Finance International Conference, which take place a few days before
the World Thrift Day, celebrated on 31 October. This recurrence, introduced 80 years
ago at the dawn of the creation of the ISBI (International Savings Banks Institute), now
known as the WSBI, has the aim to foster the promotion of savings.

Importance to the global economy of mobilising savings
The study of Peachey & Roe2 stresses that “as proximity banks, savings banks can account
for half of total accounts available to households in countries with very repressed levels of
access. Where those savings banks have mobilised significant deposit volumes to GDP then
the whole banking system typically mobilises more deposits relative to GDP.” Furthermore it
explains that: “having a strong proximity bank movement that encourages saving right down
to the local roots of an economy is likely to create a bigger overall savings base for the
economy as a whole, more scope for investment and hence a bigger economy.”
Proximity banks are particulary active in the field of microfinance in developing countries
and also have a a strong historic presence in the market for financial services for small and
medium enterprises in advanced industrial economies.
In correlation with the United Nations Year of Microcredit in 2005, the WSBI will be
advocating an enabling environment for increasing the involvement of formal financial
institutions, like savings and retail banks, in the provision of microfinance and pursuing
objectives that seek to both raise awareness of- and foster savings and retail banks’
microfinance operations.

  Access to Finance. A study for the World Savings Banks Institute. Stephen Peachey and Alan Roe, Oxford
Policy Management, October 2004
  Access to Finance. A study for the World Savings Banks Institute. Stephen Peachey and Alan Roe, Oxford
Policy Management, October 2004

    Rue Marie-Thérèse, 11 • B-1000 Bruxelles • Tél: ( + 32 2 ) 211 11 11 • Fax: ( + 32 2 ) 211 11 99
    E-mail : first • Website :
WSBI members include organisations and banks with a retail, socially responsible approach
and a regional market-focus on individuals, household, SMEs and local authorities. WSBI
members combine the provision of professional banking services with a strong commitment
to society and sustainable development. It is this approach which distinguishes savings banks
within the banking world and which will continue to guide the activities of the WSBI in the
coming years.

From its creation 80 years ago, the WSBI has been working to promote the savings and retail
bank model throughout the world by raising awareness of its importance and by advocating
an enabling environment with national and international policymakers and institutions that
favour private savings, the recognition of the importance of pluralism in banking and the
implementation of sound monetary and structural policies.
Throughout this time, the Institute has served as an excellent operating system for
cooperation and promotion. It complements its interest representation work in facilitating
both cooperation and training and in providing financial consultancy, by delivering
specific and well-developed know-how and expertise to the building and strengthening of
retail and proximity banking structures.
Going forward into 2004 and 5, the Institute is committed to reinforcing its role in providing
both the global platform and the voice for savings and retail banks, through a strong
membership in all parts of the world.

 “WSBI has since long advocated the importance of the mobilisaton of domestic resources
and recognised the potential for development and the reduction of poverty that arises from it.
Equally, both the WSBI and its members have long been strong believers in self-
empowerment and the mobilisation of local resources,” highlights Dr. Holger Berndt,
President of the WSBI.
“The depth and impact of these issues serve to underline the need for banking institutions
such as savings banks, that WSBI has represented and promoted for 80 years. The
importance of financial access is as valid today as it was 80 years ago,” emphasizes Chris
De Noose, Chairman of the WSBI Management Committee.

                                        ** ENDS **

Editors Notes

   1. WSBI Press Contacts
      Charlotte Amiri +32 2 211 11 90,
      Alessandra Pertot +32 2 211 11 91,

   2. Access to Finance. A study commissioned by the WSBI, by Stephen Peachey and
      Alan Roe, Oxford Policy Management, October 2004 can be downloaded from the
      WSBI at
      The study gives an overview of the importance of access to finance for all and to
      record the main obstacles to access in different parts of the world. It also attempts to
      create a coherent framework for analysing the available data on access and to link this
      through to indicators of wider economic development. Having surveyed the nature
      and dimensions of access (or lack of it), the paper goes on to review public and
      banking sector initiatives to improve access to finance and develop a policy agenda
      for both the financial institutions that must deliver access and the public sector that
      must create the right environment for doing so. Finally the critical role of proximity
      banks in the provision of financial services to all strata of the population in urban and
      more remote areas has been located within the broader framework of analysis.

   3. The World Thrift Day, which is celebrated yearly on 31 October, has been
      proclaimed by the ISBI (International Savings Banks Institute), now WSBI (World
      Savings Banks Institute), 80 years ago in occasion of its foundation. This recurrence
      honours the essence of thrift meaning to save and the promotion of savings banks as a
      mean through which facilitate this. Furthermore, the virtues of thrift as a prerequiste
      for financial stability and economic growth are highlighted. These virtues are still
      recognised today, particularly for their impact on economic development.

   4. Today the WSBI (World Savings Banks Institute) is one of the largest international
      banking associations and the only global representative of savings and retail banks.
      Founded in 1924, it promotes the interests of more than 1150 financial intermediaries
      in 89 countries. At the beginning of 2002, assets of member banks totalled almost
      €7,700 billion, while non-bankers deposits amounted to €5,000 billion and non-
      bankers loans just under €4,500 billion. Member bank organisations operate around
      200,000 branches and employ close to 2,5 million employees.

   5. WSBI member banks are in general regulated financial institutions committed in the
      first instance to the mobilisation of savings to which they generally add a fully-
      fledged range of financial services. Principal clients of member savings and retail
      banks are private individuals, micro enterprises, SMEs and local authorities. All
      member banks are characterised by largely distributed networks allowing extensive
      penetration nation-wide that enable them to address the needs of the people locally
      and use the resources mobilised to invest in the real economy. Savings and retail
      banks combat financial exclusion; and their natural commitment to the society in
      which they operate is tangibly and substantially reflected in the redistribution of their
      profit. For a list of our member banks, please consult


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