A GLOBAL AWARD for financial inclusion has been named after the late former Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr., the central bank said on Thursday.

Malaysia-based Alliance for Financial Inclusion’s (AFI) inaugural “Nestor Espenilla, Jr. Financial Inclusion Innovation Award” is meant to honor Mr. Espenilla’s contributions to improving access to financial services in the Philippines and globally.

AFI has 82 members from 75 countries composed of central banks and regulatory financial institutions. It was established in 2008 with the BSP as one of its founding members.

The award was established with funding support from venture capital firm Flourish Ventures, “recognizes institutions that demonstrate outstanding commitment toward innovation and the use of technology to further financial inclusion,” the BSP said in a statement.

The first recipient of the award is the Central Bank of Egypt. The winner will get support from the AFI to implement that aims to boost financial inclusion through technology and innovation.

Mr. Espenilla served as BSP governor from July 2017 until his passing in February 2019 due to illness. He was with the central bank for nearly 40 years, starting as a debt analyst in 1982.

“Recognized as a global champion for financial innovation and inclusion, former Governor Espenilla played a critical role in advocating financial inclusion in the Philippines. He became a key figure in many of the BSP’s groundbreaking policies, including the use of the “test and learn” approach to promote high-impact innovations in a prudent manner,” the central bank said.

In a message, Maria Teresita F. Espenilla, the late BSP chief’s wife, said: “By serving as the inspiration for the award that will, in turn, inspire the efforts of others, my husband continues to support and contribute to the work of the AFI in harnessing the power of technology and innovation in order to bring about greater inclusion for many more unbanked people.”

The BSP, as part of its financial inclusion goals, wants 70% of Filipino adults to have a formal financial account by 2023 from 56% in 2021. — Keisha B. Ta-asan