Global fintech and funding innovation ecosystem

Davos 2020: Financial inclusion and fintech is key to meeting the UN SDGs

Finextra | Jan 22, 2020

global global - Davos 2020: Financial inclusion and fintech is key to meeting the UN SDGsWhile technology has yet again been a central topic of discussion at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, there has also been a determined focus on fintech and how financial inclusion is key to meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

In conversation with Finextra, Haus of Fintech founder Misha Rao highlights that the recent formation of the Digital Financing Task Force by the UN Secretary General, as well as the need to ensure the financing of the SDGs - which has a $2.5 trillion annual financing gap -

"it is time to actively question how we catalyse the fintech ecosystem globally and build coalitions and strategic partnerships that come up with practical solutions and ensure prosperity is widely shared on a local and an international level."

See:  Task Force Analyzes Role of Fintech in Accelerating SDGs

Rao continues: "We know that digital finance initiatives could add $3.7 trillion to the GDP of emerging economies and organisations including the United Nations, the World Bank, and the World Economic Forum have invested in fintech, believing that it has the potential to create a better world.

"We believe that core areas like the need for resilient financial market infrastructures, enhanced distribution of foreign aid, eradicating poverty, economic and individual rights, and remittances are areas where fintech can contribute most meaningfully."

40 leading banks from across five continents and representing $16 trillion in assets, are collectively redefining the role played by banks in order to align the sector with the UN SDGs, which have set ambitious targets to deliver a sustainable future for all. As two thirds of worldwide finance is provided by banks, the global banking system will be instrumental in achieving these goals, Rao explains.

"Fintech companies are innovating through new value propositions, including flexible products and better ways to address the financial challenges faced by low-income customers. They are also building the groundwork—including easier digital identity verification, alternative lending platforms, data sharing, and new payment systems— that has resulted to a set of new financial services," she adds.

With Haus of Fintech, Rao's mission is "to bridge the gap between the worlds of fintech and organisations that are dedicated to making a difference in the lives of the most vulnerable and underserved communities. By harnessing the resources of the private sector, the reach of the public sector, the expertise of academia and the disruption and innovation of fintech, we are able to work together to bring financial services and products to those who need it most, which drive greater economic opportunity, access to new capital, the creation of new jobs and most importantly give them the opportunity to live a life of dignity and access to economic opportunity."


Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, under secretary general partnerships at the International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies, a Haus of Fintech partner, tells Finextra that fintech “has helped evolve financial inclusion beyond the simplistic idea of having a bank account.

“It has placed financial services literally in the palms of those who were previously marginalised and underserved. But questions remain on the ethics of experimentation and shared value collaboration between humanitarian actors and private partners.”

In 2020, the fintech industry will need to engage an entire system of approaches and reduce the number of siloed innovations that are emerging. “Fintech will also drive the significance of having sovereign digital identities for undocumented populations,” – providing a legal identity for all was promised as part of Goal 16 of the UN SDGs.

Focusing on Dr. Mahmood’s point on “the ethics of experimentation”, while data is increasingly prevalent in the digital world of today, the threat of data breaches, identity theft and fake news is resulting in consumer distrust.

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