Governing Global Digital Finance
13 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2020 Last revised: 6 Nov 2020
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: Suggested Citation