Fintech and Big Data

"The Fund is serving its membership as a global platform for collaboration and knowledge sharing on fintech, building on the Bali Fintech Agenda. Drawing on the stocktake of countries’ experiences with fintech, we will continue analyzing the implications for macroeconomic policies and financial inclusion, stability, and integrity; and step up efforts to deepen coverage of fintech issues in surveillance."

–The Managing Director’s Global Policy Agenda, 2019


Big Tech and the Future of Finance 

Big Tech are entering Fintech. They bring technology, deep pockets, massive networks, mountains of data, and great user experiences. But also risks. Can they reshape banking and finance? We ask Big Tech, banks, and regulators to look into the future.

Opening Remarks: David Lipton, First Deputy Managing Director, IMF

Moderator: Elizabeth Schulze, CNBC Technology Correspondent 

Panelists: Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England 

Jason Furman, Professor of the Practice of Economic Policy at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) 

David Marcus, Head of Calibra

Nandan Nilekani, Co-Founder and Chairman of Infosys Technologies Limited

Key Points:

Benefits of Fintech. Panelists agreed that the current financial system needed to evolve. They highlighted that financial service consumers, across both developing and advanced economies, face significant costs and inefficiencies, as well as other limitations to accessing finance. Marcus stated that at present 1.7 billion did not have access to digital finance. Commenting on the experience in India with national digital financial inclusion programs, Nilekani noted that such programs had enabled the creation of 330 million new accounts over a short time period.

Role of Big Tech. Panelists recognized the potential role of Big Tech in driving important change in the financial services industry, including through its ability to scale basic financial services at a low cost. Carney noted that global digital currencies, like the proposed Libra, may assist in de-dollarizing the global financial system, while also recognizing the potential volatility that could be created for domestic currencies. Panelists also noted the risks that new entrants may bring, including reduced competition, given Big Tech’s already established large customer bases, as well as financial stability, consumer protection, and data privacy concerns.

Policies. Panelists emphasized the need to ensure that consumers could fully benefit from the technologies, including through the interoperability of Big Tech financial services.  In particular, Furman noted it was important that policymakers take action to avoid the build-of market concentration. Carney stated that it was imperative for central banks to play a central role in the digital financial system, while keeping up with innovations.  In his opening remarks, Lipton highlighted the Bail Fintech Agenda and Fund’s efforts in assisting policymakers in thinking through the challenges and opportunities of fintech.


Big Data for Surveillance

Big Data for Surveillance - iLab Session
Big data session at the iLab exploring topics such as using Text Mining to identify tax reform episodes, mobile money and financial inclusion in India, and exploring causal relationships with Machine Learning.

The Art of Bringing Economics to Life
Museum spaces can be designed in ways that bring life and meaning to even the most dry and complex of topics, with economics being no exception. The magic of an exhibit relies on its capacity to speak to all possible visitors and to make concepts relevant by linking them to daily life. Strategies like interactivity, immersion environments, and visitor dialogue are tools of the present times. Let’s talk about how economics has conquered the world of museums and is helping to transform people’s lives.

Challenge Finale: Big Data for Surveillance Pitch Event
This is the final event of the Big Data for Surveillance Challenge for IMF staff, where the finalist teams will pitch their ideas to a group of judges including Louis Marc Ducharme, Statistics Department Director, and YOU! The event attendees will have a chance to cast their vote to represent one “virtual judge.” The winners will receive funding of up to 50K towards their project and will be invited to participate in the IMF iLab Accelerator Program.

Big Data, Big Stories

In a data-driven world, narratives generated by data can help inform economic policymaking. So what do the IMF’s biggest datasets tell us about lagging regions, new approaches on climate change, and what happens when housing markets overheat?

Putting a Value on Marine Life 
A whale sequesters about 33 tons of carbon dioxide on its body when it dies and sinks to the ocean floor. They also are responsible for indirectly fertilizing phytoplankton, capturing around the same amount of carbon dioxide as 78 billion trees per year. How can we put a price on the benefits this marine life gives back to the earth? 

Housing Markets—A Stich in Time Could be a Lifeline
Financial systems face a host of risks from all corners of the economy, and regulators use tools to contain these. Over the years, a variety of measures and regulations have been tried to curtail booms and busts in housing markets, but which ones might be the most effective in keeping housing markets stable? 

Global Growth, Lagging Sub-National Regions
Global growth is under pressure and even within countries, performance varies. Long-term unemployment rates are persistently higher on average in worse-performing regions within advanced economies. What kinds of reforms can help these lagging regions become more resilient? 

The Price to Stop Climate Change 
The window to stop climate change is closing rapidly and Finance Ministers must play a role. A carbon tax can stop the planet’s warming, but at what cost to people and governments?



What Do we Know about Crypto Assets?

There has been a lot of talk about Bitcoin and “Altcoins” like Ethereum, plus Libra which calls itself a crypto asset. But, are all “crypto assets” equal? Are they “financial assets” such as securities or “nonfinancial assets” such as commodities? What makes Libra and stablecoins different?

With the rising use of crypto assets, there is a looming risk of mismeasurement of key macroeconomic indicators. Our analytical corner will provide guidelines on how to record crypto assets and related activities like “mining” in macroeconomic statistics.

Do not miss out on a salient discussion on crypto assets based on real-world examples and latest developments in the crypto world!Reference: 

Treatment of Crypto Assets in Macroeconomic Statistics

What We Know about Fintech and Financial Inclusion

Is the growing use of technology in financial services helping financial inclusion? We construct a unique digital financial inclusion index covering 52 developing and emerging economies to help measure its impact and understand its macroeconomic implications. 


The Components of a Winning National Digital Strategy

Are we driving technology, or are we being driven by it? The scale, complexity and pace of technology create both anxiety and excitement, and a sense that legislation is the best approach to slow down the train and avoid risks. There's another way: countries can also leverage opportunities and manage risks by understanding some key elements of national strategies. The first element consists of acquiring an unbiased knowledge of the most transformative technologies. The next element involves four Digital Building Blocks to get a comprehensive approach to design digital strategies. Finally, the third element requires to measure the digital readiness. For this element, we will look at sub-Saharan African digital connectivity in terms of current stance, drivers, and cost of bridging the current mobile digital divide.

Components of a Winning National Digital Strategy



Fintech : The Experience So Far

Publication Date: June 27, 2019 

The paper finds that while there are important regional and national differences, countries are broadly embracing the opportunities of fintech to boost economic growth and inclusion, while balancing risks to stability and integrity.


Fintech Notes: The Rise of Digital Money

Publication: July 15, 2019

This paper marks the launch of a new IMF series, Fintech Notes. Building on years of IMF staff work, it will explore pressing topics in the digital economy and be issued periodically. The series will carry work by IMF staff and will seek to provide insight into the intersection of technology and the global economy.