International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde visiting the booth of Indonesian peer-to-peer lending marketplace Investree Radhika Jaya during Innovation Showcase on the sidelines of the IMF-World Bank Annual Meeting in Bali. (Photo courtesy of Investree)

IMF, World Bank Announce Bali Fintech Agenda to Help Member Countries Harness Fintech Power

OCTOBER 13, 2018

Jakarta. The International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group announced the so-called Bali Fintech Agenda, which intends to help member countries harness the economic advantages of fast-growing financial technology, while at the same time assisting in managing the inherent risks.

The agenda, consisting of 12 policy elements, is expected to guide the 189 member countries of the IMF in creating their own domestic policies to enabling fintech services, ensuring financial sector resilience, addressing risks that may arise, and promoting international cooperation.

"There are an estimated 1.7 billion adults in the world without access to financial services," IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said in a joint statement on Thursday.

"Fintech can have a major social and economic impact for them and across the membership in general. All countries are trying to reap these benefits, while also mitigating the risks. We need greater international cooperation to achieve that, and to make sure the fintech revolution benefits the many and not just the few. This agenda provides a useful framework for countries to assess their policy options and adapt them to their own circumstances and priorities."

World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim said the Bali Fintech Agenda is expected to provide a framework to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, "particularly in low-income countries, where access to financial services is low."

"Countries are demanding deeper access to financial markets, and the World Bank Group will focus on delivering fintech solutions that enhance financial services, mitigate risks and achieve stable, inclusive economic growth," he said.

Lagarde and Kim presented the agenda in a panel discussion, which also saw participation by Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Indonesia's minister of finance, Lesetja Kganyago, governor of the South African Reserve Bank, and Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England and chairman of the Financial Stability Board, an international body that monitors and makes recommendations about the global financial system.

The IMF and World Bank said in the statement that they would start developing specific work programs on fintech. The IMF's focus will be on the implications for national and global monetary and financial stability; and the evolution of the international monetary system and global financial safety net, while the World Bank's focus will be on using fintech to deepen financial markets, improve responsible access to financial services, and enhancing cross-border payments and remittance transfer systems.

The bank said it will leverage the growing expertise of its private-sector financing arm, the International Finance Corporation, in this area. The bank expects the agenda to contribute building the foundations of the digital economy, which is a key pillar in the World Bank Group's larger disruptive technologies engagement.

An Indonesian fintech company had a chance to introduce its services in the event and participated in Innovation Showcase, a fintech exhibition on the sidelines of the annual meetings.

Adrian Gunadi, co-founder and chief executive of Investree, said one of his company's goals is to help micro, small and medium enterprises gain access to financial markets.

"What Investree has done, strongly correlates with the digital economy and disruptive technology, which have a positive impact," he said.

He added that the company expects to help the nation improve financial inclusivity, especially to serve people who have yet to make use of financial services.