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Rapid advances in digital technology are transforming the economic and financial landscapes. 

Financial technology -- fintech -- is creating new opportunities and challenges for the financial sector – from consumers, to financial institutions and new entrants, to regulators.

Fintech offers many opportunities for governments, from making their financial systems more efficient and competitive to broadening access to financial services for the under-served populations. However, it can also pose potential risks to consumers and investors and, more broadly, to financial stability and integrity. 

The World Bank and the IMF launched the Bali Fintech Agenda paper in October 2018, which proposes a framework on high-level fintech issues that countries should consider in their domestic policy discussions. 

The Bali Fintech paper offers a high-level framework for countries to consider and to tailor fintech applications to national circumstances, and recognize that their individual approach to fintech may vary depending on the type of financial services.

The Bali Fintech paper consist of 12 policy proposals and cover issues related to enabling fintech; ensuring financial sector resilience; addressing risks; and promoting international cooperation.

The 12 elements are:

  1. Embrace the promise of fintech.
  2. Enable new technologies to enhance financial service provision.
  3. Reinforce competition and commitment to open, free, and contestable markets.
  4. Foster fintech to promote financial inclusion and develop financial markets.
  5. Monitor developments closely to deepen understanding of evolving financial systems.
  6. Adapt regulatory framework and supervisory practices for orderly development and stability of the financial system.
  7. Safeguard the integrity of financial systems.
  8. Modernize legal frameworks to provide an enabling legal landscape.
  9. Ensure the stability of domestic monetary and financial systems.
  10. Develop robust financial and data infrastructure to sustain fintech benefits.
  11. Encourage international cooperation and information-sharing.
  12. Enhance collective surveillance of the international monetary and financial system.

With their near universal membership, the IMF and the Bank are well positioned to gather information from all countries and to reflect on their respective needs and objectives at various levels of economic and technological development. They also carry the voice of countries that are themselves not members of international standard-setting bodies on issues such as combating money laundering and terrorism financing, market integrity, and consumer protection. 

The Agenda contributes to building the foundations of the digital economy that is a key pillar in the World Bank Group’s larger disruptive technologies engagement.

The World Bank has been developing specific work programs on fintech, as the nature and scope of their members’ needs are becoming clearer, in response to the Bali Fintech Agenda. 

The World Bank has been focusing on using fintech to deepen financial markets, enhance responsible access to financial services, and improve cross-border payments and remittance transfer systems. The Bank’s work also draws on the International Finance Corporation’s growing experience in this area. 

Some of the key initiatives undertaken in furtherance of the Agenda have been outlined below:

  • A Global Fintech Survey of regulators was conducted in 2019, with an aim to understand to take stock of country fintech experiences and identify key fintech-related issues that merit further attention by the IMF, World Bank and other international bodies. The resulting stocktaking paper - Fintech: The Experience So Far – which is co-authored by IMF and World Bank staff – draws upon (a) discussions with country authorities; (b) the findings of the Global Fintech Survey; and (c) deeper exploration on selected fintech topics by IMF and World Bank staff.

  • The Fintech and the Future of Finance report is a series of eight technical notes and one overview paper covering data trends and market perceptions related to fintech, fintech policy issues, and specific fintech products (payments, SME finance products and digital money). The series explores the implications of fintech and the digital transformation of financial services for market outcomes on one side, and regulation and supervision, on the other, and how these interact.

  • A database of enabling fintech regulations across nearly 200 jurisdictions worldwide has been created to serve client and staff needs to be able to access, compare and contrast fintech related regulation globally. The Global Fintech-enabling regulations database covers country treatments of both foundational regulation such anti-money laundering and countering of financial terrorism and the existence of rules to combat cybercrime as well as regulations specific to fintech business models such as digital banking and cryptoassets and marketplace lending. 

  • The Global COVID-19 FinTech Regulatory Rapid Assessment Study was published jointly with the Cambridge Center for Alternative Finance to understand the impact of COVID-19 on the regulation of fintech and regulatory innovation initiatives during the first wave of the pandemic. One hundred and eighteen central banks and financial regulators from 114 jurisdictions contributed to the research, which was supported by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.