https://digitalfinancingtaskforce.org/catalytic-opportunities/ reheck all cases
Channel domestic savings into development financing.
The Bangladesh pathfinder initiative is developing a pilot of this model. The Bangladesh pathfinder initiative plans to use mobile payment platforms to aggregate small savings, drawing inspiration from early experimentation by the Central Bank of Kenya’s M-Akiba retail bond.
peoples money opportunities identified un digital fnance report summer 2020
Ecommerce and digital payment platforms generate data on SME financial transactions that can revolutionize lending both by existing banks and new entrants. With this data SMEs can be given automatic credit ratings, allowing for rapid lending without collateral. MYbank, for example, has used such data driven ratings to disburse over US$290 billion to 17 million SMEs in China as of June 2019, 80 percent of which were first-time borrowers. In Thailand SCB Abacus the advanced data analytics subsidiary of Siam Commercial Bank has started to use non-traditional data to provide loans to SMEs borrowers with limited credit history.
Regulatory changes are needed to enable savings and liquidity to be mobilized more effectively for lending. Currently mobile money floats sit in escrow accounts with banks and are only used for liquidity. This money can be more efficiently mobilized to build credit markets and enable savers to earn a return. This requires fuller licensing of ‘virtual banks’. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority granted eight virtual bank licenses in the first half of 2019. Singapore will be issuing up to five digital banking licenses to non-bank players. Malaysia released its virtual banking licensing framework in December 2019 and Thailand is studying the possibility of licenses for digital banks. For growing enterprises access to equity capital is also needed.
In the Zimbabwe pathfinder initiative catalysed by the Task Force, Zimbabwe’s leading payments platform, EcoCash, has launched a world-first stock exchange that draws on payments data to provide robust due diligence and credit ratings for prospective listings
Next Steps: Policy-makers and regulators should encourage market innovation in data-driven lending, equity and debt platforms, integrating broader sustainability criteria into financing criteria, and ensuring that algorithms are unbiased in their treatment of women, minority groups and/or other ethnic, religious and social groups and their enterprises.
Greater transparency in the use of funds though open budgets and open contracts increases citizens’ confidence. For example, tax revenues as a share of GDP increased by 13 percent in Georgia and by 6 percent in Rwanda, following significant reductions in corruption. The Least Developed Countries could leapfrog siloed legacy systems and implement whole-of-government, integrated, use-case based approaches promoted by ITU’s SDG Digital Investment Framework.
Digitalization can enhance public resource mobilization: digital tax collection can plug leaking holes, advanced analytics can flag corruption risks, digitalization can encourage businesses to formalize (and pay tax), and extra revenues can be raised through taxes from digital goods and services.
Yet there has been only modest progress made in creating such ‘virtuous trust cycles’, despite existing use cases, estimated benefits, and on-going efforts of operational programs by the World Bank, international civil society organizations, funders such as the Open Society Foundation and Luminate, and multi-country platforms such as the Open Government Partnership. Change in this field is a ‘work-in-progress’, with significant investments needed in infrastructure, institutional change and the development of new capabilities.
Overcoming resistance to greater transparency is also part of the challenge. Citizens need to not to fear retaliation, to have their voice to be represented (e.g. civil society) and aggregated (i.e. coalitions) effectively, and authorities require capacity to address claims while mitigating the risk of simply reconfiguring corruption. Those at the forefront of initiatives to ‘open government’ are increasingly shifting away from a ‘data first’ approach to towards an approach which starts with particular problems or challenges and considers the prevailing power dynamics and how information can create coalitions for reform.
Next Steps: Policy makers should make commitments with roadmaps and milestones to accelerate practical transparency of public finances including publishing budgets, contracting and spending information as open data. They should work with civil society to focus open government initiatives on pursuing SDG priorities.
Emergence and popularity of sustainability and socially themed robo-advisors reflects citizen interest and preferences for meaningful investment options from both risk and impact perspectives, although in many markets stricter standards are needed to avoid ‘greenwashing’ and ‘pinkwashing’. With Bank of England estimating that up to US$20 trillion of assets could be wiped out if the climate emergency is not addressed effectively, climate and other environment-related data is the most important hotspot in this landscape, prompting Refinitiv to launch the Future of Sustainable Data Alliance. Enhanced disclosure is increasingly a core listing requirement, alongside the growing volume of ‘use of proceeds’ bonds.
The UN Global Compact has developed a framework for the issuance of SDG bonds, linking interest payments directly to achievement of SDG goals. By quantifying SDG impacts and integrating metrics and reporting into bond contracts they seek to connect investors demand for SDG themed bonds directly to business KPIs. Energy company ENEL issued the first such bond in 2019, which promises to pay an interest penalty if the company does not meet renewable energy and greenhouse gas conditions. While such SDG bonds raise funds for large corporations, a new generation of SDG bonds could be envisaged that leverage digital technologies to aggregate millions of smaller projects for capital market access.
Digitalized data, supported by increasingly complex machine-driven analytics should incorporate sustainability considerations. So-called ‘alternate data’ is becoming more important, particularly environmental data emanating from large biophysical data sets managed by public institutions. Standardisation is critical for large-scale applications across global financial and capital markets, making initiatives such as the European Commission’s Taxonomy for Sustainable Activities and the Task Force on Climate Related Financial Disclosure particularly important. Leveraging new data sources, progress on taxonomies, standards and analytical frameworks for assessing SDG-related risks and impacts will be key in offering transparent options and empowering citizens to direct how their resources, stored in pension, insurance and sovereign wealth funds, are invested. Citizens’ authority overuse of their funds is key to transforming financial and capital markets to take SDG considerations into account.
Applying such analytics to project financing is particularly challenging, especially as it relates to infrastructure investments needed to support economic development and the SDGs. Refinitiv, one of the Task Force’s key knowledge partners, is taking forward a pathfinder initiative The ‘Digital Governance of Infrastructure’ initiative.
Digitalization can play the role of influencing citizens’ consumption behaviour. Ant Group has experimented with this through its ‘Alipay Ant Forest’ platform that has attracted over 550 million Chinese users taking greater account of the carbon content of their consumption behaviour, now extended to a comparable experiment in the Philippines Building on this experience, Mastercard has announced a similar initiative, giving any Mastercard issuer the ability to let their cardholders monitor the carbon footprint of their purchases.
WEbank in China has created the “Measurable Ethics: Rating, Incentivization, Tracking & Supervision Framework” (MERITS) which aims to apply digital technologies to measure, record, and validate acts of positive social and environmental behaviour. It seeks to incentivise small but positive social and environmental behaviours. It sees MERITS being issued, earned, traded and redeemed for rewards in a system of social markets.
Next Steps: Policy makers should incentivise innovation and industry alliances that transparently facilitate and reward sustainable choices by consumers, create conditions for digital markets for fractionalized ownership and trading of sustainable assets.