In November, at the 2019 International Finance Forum (IFF) Annual Conference in Beijing, the IFF and the Paulson Institute launched The Global Fintech Summit. The Summit moderated by Deborah Lehr, Vice Chairman and Executive Director of the Paulson Institute, and IFF Board member, gathered policy-makers, business leaders, and senior scholars from the United Nations, China, Europe, and the Middle East to discuss the importance of fintech’s role in the global economy and sustainability efforts.
In a report released by the International Monetary Fund in June 2019, around two-thirds of nearly 100 countries and regions interviewed are aware of the opportunities of fintech to boost economic growth and inclusion, and they are actively using it in their national strategies. In Austria, for example, Vienna’s municipal government is utilizing blockchain technology to issue tokens that reward citizens for low-carbon commuting. China’s environmental exchanges are also exploring methods to apply blockchain technology to domestic carbon markets and future global carbon markets. And in emerging regions such as Africa, fintech is used to foster financial inclusion, a critical step in providing equal access to economic growth and opportunities.
Beyond governments, financial institutions and technology companies are now working together to adopt and incorporate fintech strategies into all areas of business operations. The “big four” banks—Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, and the Agricultural Bank of China—all have mutual agreements with China’s largest domestic tech giants—Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent to use their technologies. These collaborations help financial institutions remain competitive but also improve the financial system overall. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, for example, in a partnership with Tencent has incorporated cloud computing, big data, artificial intelligence, and innovative financial services into their daily business practices.
As the fintech arena continues to grow and remains part of a global discussion on how to best achieve a robust, sustainable economy, experts recognize that further discussions like those held at the Summit among global business experts, regulators, and governments are necessary to accomplish and replicate the potential and power of fintech practices across diverse economies.