Consumers International (CI) which represents 220 consumer organisations in 115 countries, urgently wants to see the needs of everyday consumers of financial services pushed to the top of the agenda at this week’s G20 summit. Consumer organisations from over 30 countries, including the G20 countries, have signed an open letter pressing the summit attendees to ensure that the worldwide financial crisis is never repeated.
Justin Macmullan, CI’s head of campaigns explains: “Many G20 members have sought to increase financial stability through the development of stress tests, improved independence of credit rating agencies and requirements to increase capital ratios. And yet, as a group, the G20 has done nothing to address consumer financial protection which – as exemplified by US sub-prime mortgages – was a key catalyst for the financial crisis.
“The interconnected nature of global banking means that people around the world will live with the consequences of this for years to come. And yet, each year the global economy creates up to 150 million new consumers of financial services, many of whom are in countries where consumer protection and financial literacy are woefully inadequate.
CI urgently wants to see the establishment of an Experts Group on Consumer Financial Protection which would help to ensure that consumers from both developed and developing nations have access to stable, fair and competitive financial services.
CI members around the world have been lobbying their own governments as well as the South Korean government to make sure that the interests of “real people” are not overlooked for the interests of big business.
Justin Macmullan concluded: “The time has come for the G20 world leaders to make a real commitment to protecting their citizens from abusive financial services industry practices which are not in the best interests of the consumer.
“International co-operation on financial consumer protection has the potential to deliver substantial savings for individual governments. This can be achieved through the co-ordination of research, the development of standards and guidelines, the sharing of best practice and the avoidance of costly crises.”