How important is fintech in perpetuating and augmenting financial inclusion in emerging markets? Matthew Blake, head of financial services and member of the executive committee at the World Economic Forum believes that the fintech sector’s role in banking the unbanked and underserved is vital.
In parallel to this, the impact of Covid-19 must be surveyed against geography, lifecycle and sector so that correlation between the maturity of the financial sector of a specific country and the level of GDP the country produces can be measured against the effect the coronavirus will ultimately have on reducing poverty, income inequality and ultimately, financial exclusion.
Blake clarifies that the results of the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance’s (CCAF) Global Covid-19 FinTech Market Rapid Assessment study will provide advice and guidance to fintech firms so that they can expand access to finance for consumers and small-to-medium sized businesses around the world during and post-Covid-19.
“You and I take for granted that we have a basic transaction account. We probably have many financial products and services that support our daily lives, but in emerging economies, 65% of adults do not have that basic transaction account in place. This is a structural issue that fintechs can help address,” Blake outlines.
He explores another structural issue in that SMEs, despite being “so vital to the vibrancy of an economy go substantially underfunded to the tune of $4 to $5 trillion dollars. That’s the financing gap there, which is huge and fintechs can again play a very vital role.”
World Economic Forum has a longstanding history of evaluating financial inclusion: analysing the number of countries that have instituted national strategies over recent years, addressing dynamics to allow for more competition and adjusting the regulatory environment to allow for experimentation.
What is clear is that this is an extraordinary period for humanity, notwithstanding the last pandemic was over 100 years ago. Blake highlights that “digital delivery mechanisms in terms of e-commerce, in terms of payments and certainly a de-emphasis in cash usage for health concerns is extremely important” for the progression of financial inclusion.
The Rapid Assessment Survey consists of 15 questions and seeks to capture, analyse and understand the following:
1. Changes in Fintech Market Performance - How Covid-19 has impacted market performance of fintech firms in areas such as transaction volumes, customer acquisition rates, loan default rates, premium lapses and the participation of retail and institutional investors in the provision of funding across various verticals.
2. Specific Covid-19 Responses by Fintech Firms - How fintech firms have adapted or plan to adapt their product and services in response to Covid-19, e.g. the launch of new products and services, payment holidays, inclusion of pandemic risk cover, a pivot to facilitating Covid-19 related fundraising activities, reducing or waiving of fees.
3. Regulatory Support or Policy Assistance - Assistance or support fintechs have received or will require from governments and regulators. This might include changes to or fast tracking of regulations, the provision of interim permissions, fiscal subsidies and tax reliefs, as well as opportunities to participate in government-run SME emergency loan, employee job retention or cash disbursement schemes as service providers.
4. Operational Challenges - How Covid-19 has impacted the daily operations of fintechs, including challenges related to client onboarding, human resources, cyber security, fundraising and access to platform-held or third-party data.
These four points highlight the issues that any business should prepare for, but Covid-19 has accelerated those plans and shone a spotlight on firms that are well positioned to handle the impact of the coronavirus.
The CCAF invites participants in key vertical FinTech and Digital Financial Services sectors (digital lending, digital capital raising, digital payments, digital savings, InsurTech, WealthTech, digital custody, cryptoasset and consensus services, digital banks and market provisioning) to complete the survey. There are two versions available:
For FinTech and digital financial services firms that have not participated in previous CCAF benchmarking studies:
Complete the survey
For Digital Lending and Digital Capital Raising firms that have previously participated in the CCAF's long-running Alternative Finance Industry Benchmarking Studies (to allow our longitudinal data collection).
Complete the survey