As the fifty-ninth session of the Commission for Social Development (CSocD59) commences, SI New York UN Representative, Maria Fornella, offers her thoughts on how the phenomenon of digital finance can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out by the 2030 Agenda.
“During COVID-19, governments have developed an enormous digital capacity to disburse social protection funds directly to their citizens, to protect small businesses, save jobs, collect taxes, and bring relief to many. The smartphone has been turned into a wallet to many who had never had a bank account before. Digitalisation has also empowered citizens to open bank accounts and become savers, lenders, borrowers, and investors.
Financial inclusion is key to reducing poverty, making transactions more efficient, transparent, and secure, and expanding savings and business opportunities.
According to 2014 World Bank Data, 94% of adults in OECD countries but only 54% in lower-income countries had bank accounts. Women represented 55% of the world’s unbanked population of 2 billion. In 2017 the unbanked population had decreased to 1.7 billion. Increasingly, digital banking provides a unique opportunity to increase women’s profitable participation in the economy.
To read the World Bank Data report in full, click HERE.
While innovative finance strategies are reshaping the banking system, digital financial technology can also be disruptive; it needs to be driven by solid social policy to avoid fraud, protect personal data and extend the benefits of digital banking to all.
Maria Ramos, Co-Chair of the UN Secretary-General’s Task Force on Digital Finance said:
“We have an historic opportunity to accelerate and expand the transformative impact of digitalisation. In particular, digital finance, which in this crisis became the lifeline for millions across the world, extends the boundaries of financial inclusion by empowering citizens as savers, investors, borrowers, lenders and tax-payers in a way that gives them choice and power over their money.” (UNDP report on digital financing)
A citizen-centric financial system that supports people’s priorities, safeguards their rights, and offers access to all could become the crowning achievement of this Fourth Industrial Revolution.”
To find out more about CSocD59 and this year’s priority theme, click HERE.