Washington: In a clear sign of its increasing influence on the global financial stage, India has joined Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), the independent policy and research centre housed at the World Bank dedicated to improving financial access for the world's poor.

In fact, India is the first of the new donors from emerging markets to join CGAP, which has traditionally been one of the most important proving grounds for a range of financial access initiatives.

"India's inclusion as CGAP membership showcases the shift in economic leadership in the world as emerging economies such as Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRIC countries) complete their transition from developing to industrialised countries," said Tilman Ehrbeck, CGAP's chief executive officer.

"As the first BRIC to become a member of CGAP, India is not only signaling its own remarkable evolution but also the importance of the mission of providing financial access to the more than 2.5 billion working-age adults who today still can't open a formal bank account or get insurance, or a business or home loan," Ehrbeck said.

He said, India has been a pioneer and an innovator in this regard for many years, "and its addition to our ranks of members is valuable and welcome.

''India joins CGAP at a time of significant progress on the issue of financial inclusion, with new technologies – such as mobile banking – gaining rapid acceptance, while the rapid growth of microcredit has been tempered by a shift toward offering a broader range of products, and a focus on strong client protection and the responsible microfinance agenda.

CGAP is backed by a network of more than 30 development agencies and private foundations that contribute to its mission to advance access to finance for the world’s poor by providing research and advice, fostering new business models and delivery channels and advocating for financial access for poor people in developing countries.

India's step to join the ranks of CGAP’s members was also welcomed by Vijay Mahajan, Chairman of its Executive Committee, Managing Director of BASIX Microfinance, and president of the Microfinance Institutions Network in India.

"This puts India at the world table on an issue of enormous importance," Mahajan said.

"India become the first developing country with a voice in the key international body on this important topic, bringing a unique track record of experience with what works, and what doesnt, in offering financial access to under-served populations," he added.

Mahajan said, “India views CGAP's role, including its work supporting the Group of 20 (G20) nations' financial inclusion work, as an important vehicle for bringing about change for the world's poor”.