‘FinTech as tool for inclusive economic growth in Commonwealth countries’
Over the past decade, advances in financial technology (FinTech), have revolutionised many aspects of financial services and expanded the provision of banking services. Driven by rapid advancements in technology, financial services have become more easily accessible, cheaper and faster.
The Commonwealth Secretariat launched an innovative toolkit in response to the requests of Central Bank Governors from across many Commonwealth countries, to unlock the potential of financial technology to deliver inclusive economic growth.
The toolkit developed by the Commonwealth Secretariat with funding support from the Australian Government contributed to FinTech growth across the Commonwealth. This includes the use of mobile money in Africa and Asia, creation of a central bank-backed digital currency in the Caribbean and the use of digital identity processes in the Pacific.
Meanwhile, FinTech can further help countries to overcome development challenges by improving financial inclusion and lifting people out of poverty, while also boosting jobs, businesses and economic growth, as it had been a driving force behind the growth of bank account ownership across Commonwealth countries in the past 10 years.
Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland, said FinTech has the potential to transform lives, harness sustainable economic growth and break down barriers for the poorest and most marginalised.
She said the toolkit was positioned to support governments in creating a healthy regulatory and banking environment for FinTech to flourish and at the same time secure consumer protection and financial stability.
According to her, the toolkit also provided an action framework, which gives practical guidance on how countries could create an enabling environment for FinTech.
She said the toolkit offers technical guidance on a range of technologies, including artificial intelligence, blockchain, and cybersecurity, and how they could be applied for the actualisation of the development goals, while recognising different national and regional issues that need to be considered to ensure FinTech is deployed according to each country’s needs.
Her words: “Our intention is that through this toolkit and other support and guidance we shall accelerate the adoption and use of FinTech to catalyse sustainable economic development and financial inclusion for millions of people across our Commonwealth family.”
In his remarks, Adviser and Head, Economic Policy and Small States, Commonwealth Secretariat, Travis Mitchell, said Fintech plays an important role in making banking and other commercial transactions contactless and physically safer, and helped to minimise the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, our work to support an enabling environment for FinTech has become even more relevant. FinTech has the potential to offer economic opportunities, generate jobs, and create business where few other industries can do so,” he said.
Meanwhile, the toolkit was launched during the Commonwealth Secretariat’s first dedicated Fintech Week. With five days of activities including podcasts, blogs, and videos, the Commonwealth Secretariat highlighted the importance and utility of fintech across the Commonwealth.
The activities also showcased the Secretariat’s broader FinTech programme, which includes partnering with the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge to offer FinTech training to more than 100 senior government officials from 41 member countries across all the Commonwealth regions.
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