At their meeting in Washington yesterday, Commonwealth Central Bank Governors came together to discuss how best they can work with the private sector, including the emerging ‘Fintech’ sector, to realise the opportunities and meet the challenges associated with the rise of Fintech. The meeting was chaired by one of the longest serving Governors in the Commonwealth, Governor Benno Ndulu of the Bank of Tanzania.
Deputy Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Dr Josephine Ojiambo, who introduced the Chair, noted that “the application of innovative technologies, such as blockchain, represent a disruptive change to the financial sector that will impact all Commonwealth members. This makes this a meeting that brings together Governors from across the Pacific, Asia, European, the Caribbean and Africa to share perspectives on shared challenges of significant value”.
Governors heard from representatives of the Fintech sector as well organisations investing in this emerging sector about the potential that Fintech offers, including in areas such as financial inclusion, supporting Central Banks in undertaking the core role in maintaining financial stability, and drawing on Fintech to address challenges such as de-risking, an issue that continues to impact a range of Commonwealth members, particularly small states in the Caribbean and Pacific.
Both from the private sector representatives and from Governors themselves there was an acknowledgement of the important role that the development of effective working relationships will play between the private and public sectors if the potential benefits of Fintech are to be realised, and the risks mitigated.
Governors, including those representing jurisdictions that have been at the forefront of efforts to promote the adoption of Fintech to boost financial inclusion, emphasised the importance of Governments and Central Banks to be proactive in responding to technological innovation and to help shape its adoption to maximise benefits.
The meeting of Central Bank Governors was followed the earlier meeting of senior finance ministry officials and the annual G20 Commonwealth and La Francophonie dialogue.
For the first time, this year’s G20 dialogue was integrated into the two intergovernmental organisations’ finance ministerial meetings” said Dr Josephine Ojiambo, Deputy Secretary-General of the Commonwealth. Member countries of La Francophonie and the Commonwealth had the unique opportunity to hear from both the German G20 Sherpa, Dominik Ziller, as well as the most senior representative of the incoming presidency, Argentinian Ambassador, Mr Pedro Villagra Delgado. “A rich engagement by members with the Ambassador enabled some of our smaller states to reinforce the importance of ongoing G20 dialogue on issues such as de-risking and climate change.”
Senior Officials received a briefing from the Commonwealth Secretariat on potential financial avenues for addressing small states’ climatic vulnerabilities, followed by a presentation on the latest upgrade of the Secretariat’s cutting-edge debt recording management system (CDRMS) – Meridian. “Discussion on the progress of the CDRMS was timely given implications of the recent devastation of some Caribbean small states in the wake of hurricanes Irma and Maria” said Dr Ojiambo.
In the run up to today’s finance ministers meeting, officials also discussed the ministerial agenda items centred on innovation and employment generation as well as the potential for a global fossil fuel instrument to slow climate change.