Digital Financing Task Force

On 26 August 2020, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, together with Co-Chairs Achim Steiner and Maria Ramos, launched the report of the Task Force, People’s Money: Harnessing Digitalization to Finance a Sustainable Future.

The Task Force was established by the Secretary General as part of his broader Roadmap for Financing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: 2019-2021. Its mandate: to catalyse and recommend ways to harness digital financing to accelerate the financing of the Sustainable Development Goals. It brought together 17 leaders from finance, technology, policy, regulation and international development, who through their work together, engaged in dozens of countries and with hundreds of experts and institutions over an 18 month period.

The Task Force’s findings point to digital disruption as an historic opportunity to reshape finance. Digitalization can have a transformative impact by empowering people as savers, lenders, borrowers, investors, and taxpayers. The Task Force has focused on how digitalization can support the development of a citizen-centric financial system that supports peoples’ priorities, collectively represented by the SDGs.

The report illustrates, through case examples and data, how digitalization has the potential to reshape the flows of large amounts of finance towards SDG impacts and alignment through more and better data, cheaper intermediation and innovative new business models.

Call to Action

The Task Force’s Call to Action to harness digitalization in creating a citizen-centric financial system aligned to the SDGs is underpinned by an Action Agenda with a three-part set of recommendations.

  • Advance catalytic opportunities to deliver financing for sustainable development.  These would not only mobilize significant finance, but be catalytic in triggering broader, systemic changes:
    • Accelerating the use of domestic savings
    • Enhancing accountability of public financing
    • Making SDGs count in global financial markets 
    • Financing small and medium enterprises 
    • Promoting SDG-aligned consumer spending.
  • Build foundations for sustainable digital ecosystems, including inclusive infrastructure, digital ID and data markets, institutions to steer the evolution of SDG-aligned digital financing, and development of the people’s capacity and rights.
  • Strengthen inclusive international governance. Regulations and standards governing digital financing need to be informed by SDG commitments and goals, with a particular need to ensure that the SDGs inform the governance of a new generation of global digital financing platforms with significant cross-border, spillover impacts.

Implementing the Action Agenda requires distinct actions by seven groups across public and private sectors, at local, national, regional and global level. It requires both ambitious individual action and ‘joining the dots’ between different groups of actors.  

Actors

Key roles

Policy makers and regulators

Provide standards and regulatory certainty, advance cooperation with innovators, steer market development in support of national sustainable development priorities, empower citizens and mitigate risks brought by digitalization of finance.

Member states, supported by UN

Cooperate to share experience, coordinate and advance ambition and develop common principles and approaches, while building capacity, infrastructure, regulations and industry support at home.

Fintech companies and global digital platforms 

Innovate products and services which meet consumer demand to channel finance to sustainable development goals. Commit to principles of SDG-aligned digital financing and develop corporate governance mechanisms to ensure they operationalize them.

Financial Institutions 

Identify and advance opportunities in own products and systems, advance interoperable digital ID and data systems. Engage with international standard setting and explore corporate governance options for stewarding the SDGs.

International development community 

Technical assistance and disseminating learning, supporting governance innovation. Provide support for development of inclusive infrastructure and the capacity of citizens

Development finance institutions

Offer solutions to share risk to enable the development of catalytic solutions. Share knowledge to help governments design risk capital projects aligned to sustainable development and provide incentives via conditionality for corporate governance innovations.

Civil society organisations

Across civic, religious, youth, women’s, worker, trader consumer and other interest groups: mobilize collective voice, documenting problems and solutions to hold the powerful accountable. Build the capacity of citizens.

The Call to Action and Action Agenda are ambitious and achievable and are relevant to all countries. Specific aspects and focus areas, however, depend on national priorities, the maturity of digital infrastructure, public financing and financial markets, capabilities and financial governance arrangements.

The Role of the UN

The UN supports Member States in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. As part of this, there are three ways in which the UN can advance the Task Force’s Action Agenda.

  • By advancing sustainability-aligned digital financing solutions at the country and regional levels.
  • By building out inclusive international governance, focused in particular on advancing appropriate governance principles and more inclusive policy and regulatory development.
  • By exemplifying good practice in transparency and accountability of its own finances including those it channels to activities in Member States.

Finally, the Task Force recommends that the UN should develop a mechanism for stewarding the implementation of the Task Force’s recommendations.

The Task Force

Co-chairs

  • Achim Steiner, Administrator, UNDP
  • Maria Ramos, Previously Chief Executive, ABSA Group Ltd

Task Force Members

  • Maiava Atalina Emma Ainuu-Enari, Governor and Chair, Central Bank of Samoa 
  • Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director, UNICEF
  • Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA
  • Piyush Gupta, Chief Executive Officer and Director,  DBS Group
  • Natalie Jabangwe, CEO, EcoCash
  • Eric Xiandong Jing, Chairman, Ant Group
  • Bradley Katsuyama, CEO and Founder, IEX
  • Pooma Kimis, Director, Autonomous Research
  • Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director, UN Women
  • Ambareen Musa, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Souqalmal
  • Patrick Njoroge, Governor, Central Bank of Kenya
  • Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, Vice President for Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions, World Bank Group
  • Richard Samans, Managing Director, World Economic Forum
  • Zhenmin Liu, Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs, UN DESA
  • Aurelie Adam Soule Zoumarou, Minister of Digital Economy and Communications, Government of Benin

All members of the Task Force served in their personal capacity, not as representatives of their affiliated institutions. The deliberations of the Task Force has been supported by a small secretariat, led by Sherpa to the co-Chairs, Simon Zadek.

The Task Force builds on the findings and recommendations of the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation. It has drawn on research and extensive engagement with the financial community, policy-makers and regulators and experts and civil society groups, including through a Call for Contributions and formally constituted convenings in Amsterdam, Beijing, Berlin, Brussels, Davos, Geneva, Kuala Lumpur, London, Milan, Mumbai, Nairobi, New Delhi, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Singapore, and Toronto. The Rockefeller Center in Bellagio, Ant Financial, World Bank, and World Economic Forum also hosted meetings and retreats that fed into the report.

Support for the Task Force has been provided through funding the Governments of Germany and Italy, with key contributions from knowledge partners and the hosts and participants of hundreds of engagements made over the life of the Task Force.

Bios

Achim Steiner

Achim Steiner, Administrator, UNDP

Achim Steiner is a global leader on sustainable development, climate resilience and international cooperation, championing the SDGs across the UN system. He is UNDP Administrator and Vice-Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Group. He previously led the United Nations Environment Programme and was Director General of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. 

 

Maria Ramos

Maria Ramos, Previously Chief Executive, ABSA Group Ltd

Maria Ramos has been ranked as one of the most powerful women in business when she served as Chief Executive Officer of the Absa financial services group in Africa. Before that she served as Chief Executive of Transnet Ltd, the South African state-owned freight transport and logistics service provider, following a seven-year tenure as Director-General of the National Treasury.

 

Maiava Atalina Emma Ainuu-Enari

Maiava Atalina Emma Ainuu-Enari, Governor and Chair, Central Bank of Samoa

Maiava Atalina Emma Ainuu-Enari, Governor of the Central Bank of Samoa has extensive experience in macroeconomic policy development and implementation, and regulation for financial inclusion and anti-money laundering, both nationally, regionally and internationally. 

Henrietta H. Fore

Henrietta H. Fore, Executive Director, UNICEF

Henrietta Fore is UNICEF’s Executive Director and has worked to champion economic development, education, health, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in a leadership career over four decades. Previously she was administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Director of United States Foreign Assistance. 

Mats Granryd

Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA

Mats Granryd is Director General of the GSMA, the industry organisation that represents mobile network operators. Mats is a strong champion of sustainability and led the mobile industry in becoming the first sector to broadly commit to the SDGs. He serves on the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development and is a Commissioner on the Business and Sustainable Development Commission.

 

Piyush Gupta

Piyush Gupta, Chief Executive Officer and Director, DBS Group

Piyush Gupta is CEO and Director of DBS Group, a leading financial services group, headquartered in Singapore. Piyush is Vice-Chairman of the Institute of International Finance, Washington. In addition, he is a member of Singapore’s Advisory Council on the Ethical Use of AI and Data, the McKinsey Advisory Council, and the Sim Kee Boon Institute for Financial Economics Advisory Board. He also sits on the boards of Enterprise Singapore, Singapore’s National Research Foundation, and the Singapore’s Council for Board Diversity. 

 

Natalie Jabangwe

Natalie Jabangwe, CEO, EcoCash

Natalie Jabangwe is the youngest chief executive to run a mobile money business in Africa. Her company, EcoCash, is Zimbabwe’s leading and fastest-growing mobile money service. Prior to joining EcoCash, she was a Senior Mobile Financial Services Consultant at a Fortune 500 company, NCR Corporation. Ms. Jabangwe is a seasoned researcher and enthusiastic digital strategist with deep financial services and technology development experience.

 

Eric Jing

Eric Jing, Executive Chairman, Ant Group

Eric Jing is the Executive Chairman of Ant Group, and a board director of Alibaba Group.  He serves as a senior advisor to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, engages with the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders as a member of the Foundation Board.  

 

 

Bradley Katsuyama

Bradley Katsuyama, CEO and Founder, IEX

Brad was one of the co-founders of IEX, after their team uncovered ways that the existing stock exchanges were selling high speed technology and data to the detriment of long-term investors. As CEO, Brad oversees both the long-term strategic direction of IEX and its day-to-day management. 

 

Pooma Kimis

Pooma Kimis, Director, Autonomous Research

Pooma is Director of Autonomous Research, an independent financials research firm. Previously she was Managing Director of OMFIF, an independent think tank for central banking, economic policy, and public investment and before that ran a boutique private equity firm investing into companies in countries along the Silk Road.

 

Zhenmin Liu

Zhenmin Liu, Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs, UN DESA

Mr. Liu is the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs at the UN. Before this he was Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of China since 2013.  Among his various diplomatic assignments, he served as Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations Office at Geneva and Other International Organizations in Switzerland.

 

 

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director, UN Women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka is United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women. Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka has worked in government and civil society, and with the private sector, and was actively involved in the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa. From 2005 to 2008, she served as Deputy President of South Africa. Prior to this, she served as Minister of Minerals and Energy and Deputy Minister in the Department of Trade and Industry.

 

Ambareen Musa

Ambareen Musa, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Souqalmal

Ambareen Musa is a Fintech entrepreneur having worked in corporate finance and consulting. She launched Souqalmal.com in 2012, the most trusted financial comparison and insurance platform in the UAE, KSA and Bahrain. The company ranked second among Forbes’s “Top 20 Most Disrupting FinTech Startups” in the Middle East.

 

Patrick Njoroge

Patrick Njoroge, Governor, Central Bank of Kenya

Dr. Patrick Njoroge has been Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya since 2015. He is Chief Executive Officer of the CBK and Chairman of the Monetary Policy Committee. Previously he was at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington, DC for 20 years. 

 

Ceyla Pazarbasioglu

Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, Vice President for Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions, World Bank Group

Ceyla leads the World Bank Group Global Practices of Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation; Macroeconomics, Trade and Investment; Governance; and Poverty and Equity. She sits on the board of the Financial Stability Board. Before the World Bank she was Deputy Director at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the Monetary and Capital Markets Department. She was Vice President of the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency of Turkey and worked as Chief Economist of Emerging European Markets at ABN AMRO.

 

Richard Samans

Richard Samans, Managing Director, World Economic Forum

Rick Samans is a Managing Director and Member of the Managing Board of the World Economic Forum. He has been responsible for developing and coordinating the Forum’s portfolio of public-private partnership initiatives while managing its relations with governments, international organizations. Previously he was Director-General of the Global Green Growth Institute.

 

Aurelie Adam Soule Zoumarou

Aurelie Adam Soule Zoumarou, Minister of Digital Economy and Communications, Government of Benin

In October 2017, the President of the Republic of Benin, His Excellency Patrice Talon appointed Ms. Zoumarou as Minister of Digital Economy and Communications with the mission of: making Benin a digital services platform for West Africa, in order to accelerate growth and achieve social inclusion. She is a skilled telecommunications and ICT professional with extensive industry experience.

 

Task Force Documents

 

Contact and More Information

To send suggestions or comments, email Simon Zadek simon.zadek@undp.org or Duygu Celik duygu.celik@uncdf.org

For media and communications contact Mark Seddon mark.seddon@undp.org

 

Visit the website: www.digitalfinancingtaskforce.org