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Commonwealth countries look to unlock potential of FinTech

1 October 2020

An innovative toolkit to help countries unlock the potential of financial technology to deliver inclusive economic progress has been launched by the Commonwealth Secretariat.

The toolkit has been created in response to the requests of Central Bank Governors from across many Commonwealth countries and developed by the Commonwealth Secretariat with funding support from the Australian Government.

Increased use of FinTech across the Commonwealth

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 advances in technology, financial services have become more easily accessible, cheaper and faster.

This has seen the use of FinTech grow across the Commonwealth, including the use of mobile money in Africa and Asia, the creation of a central bank-backed digital currency in the Caribbean and the use of digital identity processes in the Pacific.

FinTech can also help countries to overcome development challenges by improving financial inclusion and lifting people out of poverty while also boosting jobs, business and economic growth.

And FinTech has been a driving force behind bank account ownership nearly doubling across Commonwealth countries in the past 10 years.

Launch of the toolkit

The toolkit aims to support governments in creating a healthy regulatory and banking environment for FinTech to flourish at the same time as securing consumer protection and financial stability. It also provides an action framework which gives practical guidance on how countries can create an enabling environment for FinTech.

It offers technical guidance on a range of technologies, including artificial intelligence, blockchain and cybersecurity, and on how they are being applied to progress development goals. It also recognises different national and regional issues that need to be considered to ensure FinTech is deployed according to each country’s needs.

Launching the toolkit, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said:

“It is immensely satisfying to be able to offer such very practical support to so many of our member states in their work on FinTech through the production of these tools and this guidance.

“We know that FinTech has the potential to transform lives, harness sustainable economic growth and break down barriers for the poorest and most marginalised.

“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.”

The first Commonwealth FinTech week

The toolkit’s launch comes during the Commonwealth Secretariat’s first dedicated Fintech Week. Through five days of activities including podcasts, blogs and videos, the Commonwealth Secretariat is highlighting the importance and utility of fintech across the Commonwealth.

The week is also showcasing 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.

Travis Mitchell, adviser and head of Economic Policy and Small States at the Commonwealth Secretariat, said:

“In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, our work to support an enabling environment for FinTech has become even more relevant.

“Fintech plays an important role in making banking and other commercial transactions contactless and physically safer, helping to minimise the spread of the virus.

“Furthermore, FinTech has the potential to offer economic opportunities, generate jobs, and create business where few other industries can do so.”

View the Commonwealth FinTech Toolkit and read more about the Secretariat’s FinTech programme.

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