SINGAPORE: The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Ms Kristalina Georgieva, said there is no better place to look into the future of fintech than in Singapore, “a place where fintech flourishes.” Fintech—short for financial technology—encompasses the innovations in finance brought about by technology and the new financial instruments, services or intermediaries that result.

Ms Georgieva made her remarks at the eighth Singapore FinTech Festival (SFF) 2023, scheduled this week from Nov 14 to 17, where she was one of the main speakers. The others are Singapore President Tharman Shanmugaratnan and World Bank President Mr Ajay Banga.

This year’s theme is “AI for good. AI for good?” with the festival looking into the promise and pitfalls of Artificial Intelligence. Like her predecessor, former IMF head Christine Lagarde did at SFF 2018, Ms Georgieva spoke on central bank digital currencies, or CBDCs.

See also  "People are at the heart of how we use technology"—Heng Swee Keat

She said many countries are looking into CBDCs and are “developing regulation to guide digital money developments.” She added that “the public sector should keep preparing to deploy CBDCs and related payment platforms in the future… These platforms should be designed from the start to facilitate cross-border payments, including with CBDCs.”

Ms Georgieva also challenged fintech leaders and developers present, asking if they would “spend the resources onboarding merchants so they accept CBDCs? Will you make it easy for CBDCs to be integrated into financial services and messaging apps so people can pay each other from any environment?”

See also  Ravi Menon's rise in global profile outshines 1MDB casualties

She made the case for countries to continue exploring CBDCs, saying that AI could help amplify some of its benefits. For instance, by providing speedy and accurate credit scoring, AI can improve financial inclusion. For individuals who have low financial literacy, AI can give personalized support.

With careful management, AI can even help protect personal privacy and data security and prevent “embedded biases so we don’t perpetuate inequality but aim to reduce it,” she said.

Ms Georgieva also announced the launch of a CBDC Handbook, now available on the IMF website, which aims to CBDCs for policymakers worldwide to help them sail ahead.

“Again, like CBDCs, we don’t need to decide today whether cross-border platforms are desirable. It’s about keeping the option open, building capacity, and setting the design contours to support the integration and stability of the international monetary system. If not, we may actually end up fragmenting it,” she added.

Read also: President Tharman: AI will help ease talent shortage  /TISD