TASK FORCE ON THE ROAD

Since the March 2019 release of our Framework Document, the roadmap that describes how the Task Force is focusing our efforts, Task Force members and secretariat staff have been speaking at conferences all over the world: Amman, New York, Washington, Paris, London, Copenhagen, with San Francisco, Milan, Nairobi, Kuala Lumpur, and others still to come. Last week saw Task Force appearances in Beijing and Singapore.


BEIJING: 8 MAY 2019

SOUTH-SOUTH LEARNING EXCHANGE 

In Connection with Launch of  “i3” (innovate, implement, impact), a new program by UNCDF with support from MetLife Foundation

Event organizers: United Nations Development Programme ( UNDP) and China International Centre for Economic and Technical Exchanges (CICETE)

United Nations representation:

  • Nicholas Rosellini, UN Resident Coordinator
  • Agi Veres, UNDP Resident Representative

Task Force representation:

  • Natalie Jabangwe, Task Force member
  • Meng Yan, Sherpa to Task Force member Eric Jing
  • Matthew Blake, Sherpa to Task Force member Richard Samans
  • Tillman Bruett, Director, Task Force Secretariat

SINGAPORE: 8 MAY 2019
2019 ASEAN REGULATORY SUMMIT 

Task Force representation:

  • Simon Zadek, Sherpa to Task Force co-chairs Achim Steiner and Maria Ramos
  • Julia Walker, Head of Market Development, Risk, Asia Pacific for Refinitiv (data partner to the Task Force)

Play Video

Simon Zadek, Julia Walker, and Douglas Arner at ASEAN event. Watch the whole thing (35:00)

Play Video

Simon Zadek explains the mandate of the Task Force (1:01)

Play Video

Julia Walker explains Refinitiv’s commitment to the work of the Task Force. (0:40)

Video footage courtesy of Refinitiv, used with permission and the Task Force’s gratitude


BEIJING: 8 MAY 2019

United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), which hosts the Task Force secretariat, invited the Task Force to participate in the launch of its i3 Programme in China, a new initiative to advance the digital financial Inclusion of low-income people. Organized in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the China International Center for Economic and Technical Exchanges (CICETE), the launch included a Task Force-facilitated workshop attended by seventy participants, including a dozen from outside of China, to explore China’s experience using digital technologies to advance development and to share their own perspectives.

Task Force member Natalie Jabangwe described how EcoCash Zimbabwe went in just four years from start-up to the largest provider of retail financial services in the country and the driver of financial inclusion, particularly in rural areas. “With this rapid growth also came a great responsibility. We soon realized that with transactions equivalent to 80 percent of GDP going through our system on an annual basis, we had social responsibility. It is no longer just about doing the cool new thing. We have to consider the impact we are having on the country.”

Matthew Blake, sherpa to Task Force member Rick Samans commented that the mandate of the Task Force brings together many of the World Economic Forum’s priorities and its constituencies. He presented on the future of work in digital age, which is displacing some workers, but is also placing a high value on work that requires distinctly human skills such as creativity, critical thinking, persuasion, and negotiation. “A job is more than your salary, putting food on the table or a roof over one’s head. It is a defining point of lives. It shapes how we think of ourselves and how others perceive us, and it plays an important role in our contentment and well-being.”  

Meng Yan, sherpa to Task Force member Eric Jing, facilitated a panel on the Task Force with Natalie, Matthew, Tanya Accone from UNICEF (whose chief Henrietta Fore is a Task Force member), and secretariat director Tillman Bruett. Each panelist shared examples from their own work illustrating how the digitalization of finance is contributing to development, and described their own priority reasons for believing in the crucial nature of the Task Force’s work. The panel discussion set the terms for four break-out sessions around key Task Force themes: Decent Work, Climate Change, Access to Basic Services, and Sustainable Investments.

Friday Reader #9 (May 31) will include a detailed summary of those discussions. 

SINGAPORE: 8 MAY 2019

The annual ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Regulatory Summit is the key industry event for senior risk, compliance, and investment professionals from banks, financial institutions, regulatory entities, exchanges, and other industry players across the region. Last week’s Summit, the fifth annual gathering, brought together more than 800 high-level executives. Task Force partner Refinitiv organizes the Summit each year and invited Simon Zadek to speak on a keynote panel “Unlocking the Power of Digital Finance: What Comes Next?” 

Mr. Zadek and his co-panelist, University of Hong Kong professor Douglas Arner, spoke for 35 minutes in a wide-ranging discussion moderated by Refinitiv’s Julia Walker. Among other topics, the panelists discussed the changing role of regulators as the world’s financial systems become rapidly digitalized. Central bank governors and financial regulators may have generally supported sustainability as a philosophical premise, but until recently, they did not necessarily see it as part of their own position’s mandate. That mentality has significantly and abruptly shifted, with sustainability now occupying a central role on the regulatory agenda and with the formation of a network of central bank governors (led by Banque de France) explicitly created to focus on those concerns.

The panelists acknowledged that with the exception of financial inclusion itself, which digitalization has dramatically expanded and which is largely seen as an unalloyed good, for the broader sustainability agenda, digitalization is a two-sided coin. it increases efficiency—which can and often does result in the loss of massive numbers of jobs or even the elimination of entire industries. It makes the flow of financing much faster and smoother than ever before possible—which also facilitates financial crimes. The importance of policies, regulations, standards, and enforcement mechanisms is thus more critical than ever.

The only way forward? Bringing together all stakeholders beyond the usual suspects. The technology people often talk to the financial people (hence the portmanteau word “fintech”) but—with the specific exception of financial inclusion—the sustainability people seldom talk to fintech players, or even understand why they should. For fintech to achieve its full potential, the financial, technology, sustainability, regulatory, and policy community must all not only share information but actually collaborate in an ongoing way as co-creators of solutions. The Task Force is providing a platform for that co-creation. The panelists acknowledged that it is only a beginning at this point—but an exciting one with enormous potential.