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Posted On: 26 August 2019 11:32 am

SustainableQATAR’s Weekly Challenge 26: Finance: Fintech

ILQ Staff
ILQ Staff
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SustainableQATAR’s 52 weekly challenges – that is one challenge per week for a whole year themed by month – are Qatar-specific and Qatar-relevant opportunities for all residents to take actions in personal life, work and within our communities.

Read the blog post on the August Theme – Finance

Sustainable finance – is fintech the solution?

Fintech – short for financial technology – is, the digitalization of the financial and capital markets. It’s part of the sharing economy (like Uber and Airbnb) applied to finance through peer-to-peer lending, equity crowdfunding, and payment options.

Fintech is reshaping the banking and payments industry and encompasses everything from personal finance to investments guided by Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, to cryptocurrency and its underlying blockchain technology. New apps and mobile payment platforms have already changed the way we pay for things, from internet/TV to plane tickets to food, energy, and health care. Crowdfunding platforms are also products of fintech that enable individuals to raise funds and capital for entrepreneurial startups and social causes – all of this is happening at lightning speed.

Where do fintech and sustainability overlap exactly? Fintech seems to disrupt the finance sector because it breaks through the barriers of the traditionally hierarchical, rigid and bureaucratic, often even discriminatory banking industry. Surprisingly, less financially literate users embrace fintech for its faster, more convenient, less expensive, and more transparent services like money transfer of remittance payments, development aid, loans, and other financial transactions that were previously reserved for a limited few or came with high fees.

Financing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to achieve the Paris Agreement on climate change is a big challenge and fintech may serve as a vehicle for direct and transparent transactions. The newly-established U.N. Secretary General’s Task Force on Digital Financing for the SDGs is tasked with using fintech to ensure that financing decisions take account of social and environmental externalities, from climate risk to community impacts to labor standards.

“As Jack Ma asserted in Davos this January [2019], tomorrow’s digital economy offers us a way to address many of our global and local goals, from decent livelihoods to tempering the pace and effects of climate change.” Financing sustainable development: Is fintech the solution, problem, or irrelevant?

Financing sustainable development: Is fintech the solution, problem, or irrelevant?

Remember, as individuals we have options when making consumer decisions. We can tap right into fintech. Digital banking and payments make our lives more convenient and free up time. It also reduces paper and carbon emission from not driving to the bank. Peer-to-peer lending, equity crowdfunding, and payment possibilities are all at our disposal, with greater positive impact than we may realize. One example of equity crowdfunding that serves as a two-sided marketplace between investors and startups is kiva.org, an international nonprofit with a mission to expand financial access to help underserved communities thrive, allowing individuals to lend as little as $25 so that “students can pay for tuition, women can start businesses, farmers are able to invest in equipment and families can afford needed emergency care.”

“There is a rising awareness about the potential for fintech, technology-driven innovation in finance, to be harnessed to support sustainable development. If done well, this could be transformative.”

Catalysing Fintech for Sustainability: Lessons from multi-sector innovation

Learn more about fintech and how it can help make the financial services industry more accessible to all. With Qatar seen as a leader in fintech in the MENA region, with digital payments, banking, and more, find out how you can use fintech to save money and time, and help curb carbon emissions to reduce, or even reverse, global warming.

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Photo by Monito