Pre-recorded videospeech Queen Máxima for the Pakistan Fintech Summit

Queen Máxima is the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA).

The  speech was recorded in March 2021 for the summit scheduled for the springtime. The summit was postponed to 1 December.

Governor Baqir, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to be with you at the inaugural Pakistan Fintech Summit and to congratulate the wide range of fintech players who have come together to form of the Fintech Association of Pakistan.

These are important milestones on the journey to a more inclusive financial system and to a digital economy that works for everyone.

I am pleased that you are all gathered here to seize this opportunity to make connections, learn, and discuss how fintech and the internet economy can transform financial inclusion in Pakistan.

Financial inclusion really does matter. It has the power to improve people’s lives. It is not simply an end in itself, rather a tool to create jobs, take part in an increasingly digital economy, empower women, and enhance the financial health of customers. Something that is needed now more than everto help mitigate the economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today, I would like to share with you three messages.

Firstly, there is significant potential to build on the existing digital infrastructure to spur financial inclusion.

There is increasing mobile and internet access, a robust and almost universal ID system, a large mobile phone user base, and an expanding distribution of financial access points.

If services are tailored to their needs and designed to fit their situation, fintech can create opportiunities to help all Pakistanis to have better financial lives.

Big-data analytics can play an increasing role in identifying what customers need and can make services more intuitive for use.

Innovation can  also drive more competition and collaboration between traditional players, start-ups, and tech companies. And fintech solutions can rapidly change the way customers pay, save, borrow, and protect themselves against risks.

To date, we have only seen the tip of the iceberg in Pakistan. You have the opportunity for technology to drive financial inclusion for the remaining 79% of unbanked Pakistanis.

Whether this will happen, comes down to the actions of the inno-vative service providers here today.

This is not business as usual. Will your digital tools help nudge customers to save, or help them plan ahead? Will they address risks that they need to hedge or support them to run their businesses better?

Can you provide affordable and timely services  that fit their lives and budgets? Could you offer daily insurance rather than long term contracts? Can you build on your customers’ life events, such as a baby being born, or a child starting school, or sending your son or daughter to college, as starting points to design new products?

Secondly, the regulatory authorities have taken important steps to build an enabling environment. 

To keep pace with innovation, it will be important for innovators and the SBP to build platforms that support dialogue, co-creation, and give space for experimentation. The government has made significant strides to encourage inclusive fintech.

The revised National Financial Inclusion Strategy targets creating 65 million active digital accounts, with 20 million of these to be held by women by 2023.

The State Bank also recently launched its pro-poor micropayment gateway – Raast – and has developed new regulations for electronic money providers and for the digital onboarding of merchants.

Moreover, the bank's efforts to create its Banking on Equality policy, a regulatory framework for digital banks and online account opening, all promise to spur financial inclusion, particularly for women. These moves could also introduce new providers and further innovation in the sector.

While the enabling environment is developing well, there is a need for innovators to engage with regulators to help them keep pace with changes, to support efforts to address fraud, and to share information that can help identify emerging risks. The key insight from my Fintech Working Group’s 2019 research on new regulatory tools was that an innovation office can be a great first step to identify solutions and to help regulators keep pace with innovation.

An innovation office is a small unit within a regulator that can facilitate dialogue with new players and new products. For example, the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s innovation office’s experiences gave them a strong foundation to create their regulatory sandbox, and then explore and develop regtech solutions and draft new regulations.

Thirdly, Pakistan’s fintech innovators have an important role in proactively shaping the industry to meet its potential.

With over 70 members from across the fintech industry and beyond, the recently launched Fintech Association of Pakistan can start to play a crucial role in representing the prioritized views of the industry. It can also be an engaged counterpart to government, advise and support fintech start-ups, and to create the space for networking and co-creation between partners through initiatives, such as techsprints and developing industry standards and codes of conduct.

Looking at well-established fintech associations, such as the one in Indonesia, we can see the effective role that can be played by such a private sector platform. They have become a leading voice in helping set policy priorities, recommending industry standards including on innovative credit scoring, as well as developing of young tech talent, and ideation. In this room full of leading private sector innovators. I look forward to seeing what you will be able to achieve together.

And lastly, I’d like to thank Governor Baqir, who is here today, for showing his support for financial inclusion and fintech as priorities for driving Pakistan’s development. Your leadership will be key in coordinating, implementing, incentivizing, and holding the industry and the SBP to account for delivering results. My partners and I are here to support you and I wish you all a lot of success in all your efforts. Thank you.