Innovations in the finance sector could help lift more people out of poverty and boost growth in developing Commonwealth countries.
A group of finance executives and central bank governors met with the Commonwealth Secretariat in the margins of the World Economic Forum at Davos, to discuss how financial technology – known as ‘fintech’ - could be used to overcome development challenges.
The dialogue, hosted by the Commonwealth and Oxford University, covered issues linked to digital currencies such as Bitcoin, ‘blockchain’ technology which enables fast, secure and transparent record-keeping, as well as data management.
It was also an opportunity to gain feedback on the Commonwealth’s forthcoming Fintech Toolkit.
The toolkit aims to help governments find solutions for key challenges, such as supporting millions of people in Africa and Asia who do not have access to the banking system, and tackling the impacts of de-risking, whereby major lenders sever ties with clients considered to be “high risk”, often leaving small-scale partners or customers in the lurch.
Deputy Secretary-General Arjoon Suddhoo, who led the Commonwealth delegation, said: “This dialogue was a prime opportunity to connect with our central bank governors and sector leaders to discuss cutting edge innovations in the industry, and their possible applications to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
“Technology is a catalyst for growth and development. It is moving at a phenomenal pace and revolutionising our way of live - the finance sector must keep up.”
A team of experts from the Oxford University’s Said Business School is supporting the Commonwealth to develop the Fintech toolkit.
Lead expert David Shrier said: “Our hope is that the toolkit will become a living, dynamic resource that will be updated regularly and will create a forum for Commonwealth members to share both their own experiences and insights, as well as pose questions to their peers to foster collaborative solutions.”
The Fintech Toolkit will be launched at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting this June in Rwanda.