Governing Global Digital Finance

13 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2020 Last revised: 6 Nov 2020

See all articles by Aiaze Mitha

Aiaze Mitha

UN Secretary General's Task Force on Digital Financing of the SDGs

Simon Zadek

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Douglas W. Arner

The University of Hong Kong; The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law

Date Written: July 12, 2020


Digitalization is reshaping finance, opening new market and development opportunities, and bringing with it new risks. Digital finance, or ‘fintech’, makes a difference by providing access to more, better and cheaper data, removing unnecessary intermediation, enhancing efficiency to reduce barriers and catalyzing innovation. The current crisis has transformed digital finance from a convenience into an existential lifeline.

The UN Secretary General’s Task Force on Digital Financing for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) highlights the potential of fintech, for example, to crowd in SDG-related risk and impact data into financing decisions, reduce financing costs, open opportunities for business innovations particularly those targeting the poor, and enable citizens to have a greater say over their money, as savers, lenders, investors, and tax payers. It also has identified risks that need to be mitigated if it is to be an enabler of financing aligned to the SDGs.

One feature of digitalization, and a source of risk as well as opportunity, is that it enables ever-increasing returns to scale, increasing market concentration: ‘network effects’. A small number of digital finance platforms, often arising from ‘BigTech’ particularly e-commerce, social media, and indeed governments, have grown rapidly, a direction of travel likely to accelerate as a result of the crisis.

These ‘global digital finance’ platforms, of ‘BigFintech’, will be increasingly impactful across the world, particularly in developing countries with smaller, weaker or under-developed financial systems, economies, and policy frameworks but where also the opportunities for transformation are greatest. With such extensive footprints, there is need, and yet challenges to securing the most appropriate policies, regulations, and broadly governance.

Governance considerations of BigFintech are often narrowly focused, setting aside many SDG aspects, risks and opportunities. Moreover, they are likewise often not inclusive, notably of the voices of countries most likely to be directly impacted, particularly outside of the major economies. The Task Force’s ‘Dialogue on Global Digital Finance’ has been established as a complementary and supportive initiative aiming to enhance and rebalance governance debate, innovation and developments with these two factors in mind.

Keywords: digitalization, digital finance, global platforms, BigTech, governance, sustainable development

JEL Classification: E58, E61, F63, F68, G18, 016, 033

Suggested Citation

Mitha, Aiaze and Zadek, Simon and Arner, Douglas W., Governing Global Digital Finance (July 12, 2020). University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 2020/045, Available at SSRN: or

Aiaze Mitha (Contact Author)

UN Secretary General's Task Force on Digital Financing of the SDGs ( email )

New York, NY 10017
United States

Simon Zadek

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Douglas W. Arner

The University of Hong Kong ( email )

Pokfulam Road
Hong Kong, Pokfulam HK

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law ( email )

Pokfulam Road
Hong Kong, Hong Kong


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