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Commonwealth Countries Should Share Lessons Learned To Drive Fintech Innovation

Commonwealth fintech pioneers can help drive further innovation across all 56 member states through partnerships and shared learnings, according to a new report.

The Commonwealth Countries: Driving FinTech Innovation report outlines how member countries, such as Kenya, Jamaica, Nigeria, The Bahamas and the countries of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union, are at the forefront of the evolutionary advances in fintech.

It also reviews the main fintech innovations, services and activities utilised across the association. These include mobile money and other digital payments, central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), enterprise technology provisioning, cryptocurrency, and alternative credit.

Regional differences

Many of these innovations are country and region-specific. For example, in the Pacific region, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Solomon Islands have high levels of mobile money registrations. While South Africa leads the way when it comes to digital banks, with its first digital-only bank launching in 2019.

Seven Commonwealth countries are currently looking at the viability of CBDC technology with most at the research stage and one (Nigeria’s eNaira) already having been launched. While several Commonwealth fintech companies have also been using AI to improve financial literacy across the region. This includes Tanzania’s Mipango launching an AI-based app that provides users with free financial advice.

According to the Commonwealth Secretariat, evidence from the report suggests that “opportunities are ripe for learning from Commonwealth fintech pioneers, to support fintech capacity building across the Commonwealth as well as prospects for partnering and knowledge sharing with other Commonwealth countries.”

Next steps

Commonwealth countries that want to replicate the successes experienced by other member states can
nurture fintech capitalising on existing demand and supply drivers, as well as enhancing factors to promote the supply of fintech services to fill identified gaps.

To help member countries deal with challenges in fintech, recommendations will focus on three areas:

  • fostering financial literacy
  • improving digital infrastructure
  • facilitating effective fintech regulation, which can provide guidance for fintech service providers moving forward

The Commonwealth has outlined plans to focus on enhancing financial literacy across its developing countries and small states. A meeting in Washington D.C today brings together a panel of experts on financial literacy and financial inclusion.

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