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Despite the rapid growth in finance worldwide over the past quarter-century—now interrupted by the global financial crisis—many low-income households and small firms remain excluded from access to many financial services, especially in developing countries. While traditionally seen by many financial-service providers (FSPs) as less attractive customers, a growing number of mainstream FSPs have joined microfinance firms in extending the range of their service provision, and important advances have been made in expanding access.

At a time of increased focus on financial-sector policy and of regulatory tightening, it is important not to lose sight of the goal of increasing the access to appropriate financial services essential to the escape from poverty and the achievement of firm growth. It is in this spirit that we propose 10 principles for financial-sector policymakers—including national authorities, donors, private-sector participants, international financial institutions, and others—on the facilitation, regulation, and direct provision of financial services.

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