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Exploring Digital Finance’s Real Promises and Challenges for Development

Exploring Digital Finance’s Real Promises and Challenges for Development

Join the NGO Committee on Financing for Development on Wednesday, 27 April 2022, 8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. EDT for this official side event to the 2022 ECOSOC Financing for Development Forum.

Register here: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0qc-6orjsuGdFhyWHfljp7ZNxV526Onoc7

Speakers:

  • Ms. Cina Lawson, Minister of Digital Economy and Transformation of the Republic of Togo (TBC)
  • Dr. Purva Khera, Economist, International Monetary Fund
  • Mr. Johannes Ehrentraud, Senior Advisor, Financial Stability Institute, Bank for International Settlements
  • Ms. Sofie Blakstad, CEO of hiveonline and author of Fintech Revolution: Universal Inclusion in the New Financial Ecosystem
  • Ms. Anneleen Vos, Seionr Economic Policy Officer, International Rescue Committee
  • Mr. Prabhat Labh, CEO, Grameen Foundation India
  • Ms. Mercy Buku, Program Leader, Toronto Center

Moderator: Mx. Anita Thomas, Chair, NGO Committee on FfD, Representative to the UN, Women First International Fund

Co-sponsors: ManUp Campaign, Change Management Solutions, Sisters of Charity Foundation, African Development Interchange Network, IBVM

Background:

The UN Secretary General’s task force on digital finance in its report titled “People’s Money: Harnessing Digitalization to Finance a Sustainable Future,” spells out the transformational impact digital finance can have on sustainable development. Providing relief for millions around the world, supporting businesses, and protecting jobs and livelihoods, digital finance served as a lifeline during the COVID-19 pandemic. A World Bank tally of policy responses to the pandemic finds that at least 58 governments in developing countries used digital payments to deliver COVID-19 relief, of which 36 countries made payments into fully transactional accounts that were being used for saving beyond simply withdrawing cash. According to the GSMA, international remittances processed via mobile money increased by 65 percent in 2020.

Proponents of digital finance highlight its strong capabilities to reduce transaction costs, the potential of Artificial Intelligence to provide fair and equitable treatment of credit applicants, and the scalability of cloud technology, through the use of blockchain technology, to allow consumers to transact remotely and seamlessly across multiple platforms.

While the experience of COVID-19 has proven that digitalization can transform economies and lives, it needs to be shaped with both its advantages and potential risks in mind in order to bring everyone into the digital age. For technology to benefit everyone, private sector innovation must be supported by the appropriate public goods such as the public provision of foundational infrastructure, access to electricity, mobile and internet coverage.

As in the case of any disruptive technology, without combining technological advances with sound policy measures, digital technology cannot deliver on its potential to meaningfully advance financial inclusion for everyone, including the more than 2 billion unbanked people globally. Delivering on promises to advance financial inclusion can only be considered meaningful when the account holder has a fully functional account that they utilize to save, make payments, obtain manageable credit, and mitigate economic risks and is simply not utilized to withdraw cash from cash transfers from the government, which is overwhelmingly the case at this time.

By examining successful strategies that maximize digital finance’s potential while minimizing risks to the financial sector, government revenues, and at-risk populations, attendees will gain a better understanding of how digital finance can sustainably advance development objectives.

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CoNGO Notes: The NGO Committee on Financing for Development is a Substantive Committee of the Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations.

ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development

The ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development follow-up (FfD Forum) is an intergovernmental process with universal participation mandated to review the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (Addis Agenda) and other financing for development outcomes and the means of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The event brings together heads of state and government, ministers and high-level government officials as well as senior officials of international organizations. Civil society organizations, the business sector and local authorities will also be represented.

Additional information on preparations for the Forum, including the programme, outcome, substantive background, stakeholder participation and side events, will be made available here: un.org/development/desa/financing/what-we-do/ECOSOC/financing-development-forum/FFD-forum-home

The UN does not charge a fee for registration and participation. For any questions, please contact the Financing for Sustainable Development Office at ffdforum@un.org.

Register here: un.org/development/desa/financing/what-we-do/ECOSOC/financing-development-forum/registration

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CoNGO Notes: For more information on the NGO Committee on Financing for Development, please visit ngosonffd.org.

Public dialogue on the progress of the Inter-agency Task Force on Financing for Development

Dear colleagues,

You are cordially invited to an informal public dialogue on the progress of the Inter-agency Task Force on Financing for Development (IATF on FFD), in preparation for the 2022 Financing for Sustainable Development Report. The public dialogue will be held on the 21st of October (Thursday), 9:00 – 10:30 EDT, virtually via MS Teams.

Representatives from the Secretariat, the five major institutional stakeholders (World Bank Group, IMF, WTO, UNCTAD and UNDP), and other Task Force members will brief Member States and external stakeholders on their work. A short presentation will be followed by an interactive discussion to solicit feedback and input. We welcome the participation of all delegations and all stakeholders in this briefing and look forward to your contributions to the dialogue.

If you are interested in attending the briefing, please click here to register and you will receive a specific calendar invitation for the event.

Background information on the briefing is available on the Task Force website. For further information please contact Mr. Peter Chowla (chowla@un.org), Ms. Poh Lynn Ng (ng6@un.org), and Ms. Jie Wei (weij@un.org).

Kind regards,

Navid Hanif

Director, Financing for Sustainable Development Office, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations

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CoNGO Notes: For more information on the NGO Committee on Financing for Development, please visit ngosonffd.org. For more information on the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-NY, please visit ngocsd-ny.org. For more information on the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-Vienna, please visit congocsd.wordpress.com.

Digital and Financial Inclusion: Pathways to promote an inclusive Post-COVID-19 socio-economic recovery

Virtual side event during the 2021 ECOSOC FfD Forum on Financing for Development

Date & time: April 12 from 1:15 pm – 2:45 pm EST

Register in advance for this meeting (by 5:00pm EST on April 11): https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwpcOGopj4tE9OFujGTOC3FTT_-z2aMJ0Sr

World Bank data (September 2020) indicates that 212 countries have planned, introduced, or put in place 1179 safety net payments and other social protection measures for the most vulnerable populations. But reports also show that digital exclusion and lack of access to a bank account, in the form of a transactional or savings account or a digital wallet, continues to pose immense challenges for those in marginalized communities, especially women youth, refugees, and migrant workers in the informal sector, to recoup benefits from government relief measures such as cash transfers and subsidies, the very measures intended to help tide them over, in a quick and timely manner. Women continue to face widespread barriers to financial inclusion. Globally, of the 1.7 billion people that remain unbanked, meaning they do not hold an account at a bank or a mobile bank provider, approximately 1 billion are women and in developing countries. The 9% gender gap that existed over the last decade continues to persist.

While businesses are increasingly offering consumers the option to transact through online and mobile platforms, two major barriers prevent consumers from adopting these digital options: lack of internet connectivity (digital exclusion) and or lack of a bank account to receive or make payments (financial exclusion). In addition, Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) face considerable challenges in accessing digital financial services and credit, inclusive insurance schemes and online payment systems and retail platforms that will be keys for their survival in the post-COVID era.

Digital financial inclusion is ever more critical for marginalized communities, especially women, youth, refugees and informal migrant workers, to recover from the crisis and to ensure the survival and sustainability of MSMEs. Long-term risks and barriers of entry, including lack of access to Smartphone services due to marginalized populations’ inabilities to engage in contracts, complex lending practices, especially among women, poor digital literacy and financial literacy and numeracy skills, and lack of valid identification for refugees forced to leave all personal possessions behind, to name but a few, are significant obstacles that could cause more harm than good if not effectively managed. The Global community must act now to bridge the gaps and barriers restricting the world’s most vulnerable populations from meeting their financial needs.

Implementing appropriate regulatory measures in a timely manner is essential for consumer protection and to ensure the funds reach those whom it is intended for. In the July 1, 2020 Special Series Notes on COVID-19 of the International Monetary Fund, experts noted that while the need for social distancing has put a spotlight on digital financial services, scaling up too fast in times of crisis without appropriate regulatory mechanisms could pose a risk to stability and integrity.

The panel will explore the interlinkages between financial and digital inclusion, innovative advancement in fintech and digital infrastructure to advance last-mile connectivity and address the challenges to financial inclusion faced by marginalized communities and MSMEs, as well as propose measures to address regulatory challenges, and disparities in broadband connectivity.

Panelists:

  • Member State representative (TBC)
  • Ms. Lois, Bruu, Vice President, Humanitarian and Development, Master Card Speaking on innovative initiatives to advance digital financial inclusion for marginalized communities, especially women, and MSMEs and recommendations to address financial, economic, structural, and regulatory barriers to advancing financial inclusion for all
  • Ms. Purva Khera, Economist, International Monetary Fund Interlinkages between digital and financial inclusion, financing challenges and advancement in fintech to address the challenges faced by MSMEs and marginalized communities, including women
  • Mr. Jon Frost, Senior Economist, Innovation and the Digital Economy unit, MED, Bank for International Settlements Risks and emerging concerns around digital finance that could work contrary to goals to help marginalized communities
  • Representative from civil society speaking on an innovative initiative/s to ensure reliable broadband connectivity for advancing digital financial services, including last-mile connectivity (TBC)
  • Ms. Lydia Charles, Founder and Executive Director, Her Initiative, Tanzania Challenges to financial and digital inclusion at the grassroots level, especially for women, and steps to take to address these challenges.

Moderator: Anita Thomas, Representative to the UN, Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund (DBA Women First International Fund); Chair, NGO Committee on Financing for Development

Co-sponsors:

Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund, Sisters of Charity Federation, Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Loreto Generalate, Global Foundation for Democracy and Development, New Humanity for the Focolare Movement, Salesian Missions Inc, Change Management Solutions, Startnoo

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CoNGO Notes: For more information on the NGO Committee on Financing for Development, please visit ngosonffd.org. For more information on the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-Vienna, please visit ngocsdvienna.org. For more information on the NGO Committee on Sustainable Development-NY, please visit ngocsd-ny.org

Virtual Briefing for UN Permanent Representatives on the FACTI Panel’s Work

The FACTI Panel will hold a virtual briefing to update the Permanent Representatives of Member States on the Panel’s progress on Friday, 11 December 2020, from 9:00 AM-11:00 AM (EST), 14:00-16:00 (UTC).The meeting will also provide an opportunity for an interactive discussion on the Panel’s workPlease find the time in your local zone here. Kindly find attached the Concept Note with the Agenda.

Join on your computer or mobile app: Click here to join the meeting

Join with a video conferencing device: unitevc@m.webex.com

Video Conference ID: 128 520 745 0

Alternate VTC dialing instructions

Learn More | Meeting options

High Level Panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency & Integrity for Achieving the 2030 Agenda
info@factipanel.org | @FACTIPanel | http://www.factipanel.org

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CoNGO Notes: For more information on the NGO Committee on Financing for Development, please visit ngosonffd.org.