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Policy forum explores FinTech potential for financial inclusion

By Ana V. Ibáñez Prieto - Apr 02,2018 - Last updated at Apr 02,2018

AMMAN — Over 100 policymakers and regulators from around the globe on Monday gathered in Amman for the inauguration of the Financial Technology (FinTech) Policy Forum, organised with the aim of discussing evolving regulatory paradigms around FinTech as a tool for inclusion. 

Organised by the Central Bank of Jordan (CBJ) and the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI), the event is held as part of the Financial Inclusion Initiative for the Arab Region launched by the Arab Monetary Fund, the Deutsche für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH and AFI at the 2017 Global Policy Forum in Egypt.

In his inaugural speech, CBJ Governor Ziad Fariz announced the launch of the bank’s new “regulatory sandbox”, a safe space where businesses can test innovative products without immediately incurring into normal regulatory consequences. 

The new system includes the development of an evaluation criterion for the sandbox based on international examples, aimed to allow FinTech firms to test their ideas and open for other firms in the region to experiment in the Kingdom, according to Fariz. 

The governor added that “the CBJ has the leading role in FinTech for financial inclusion”, noting that the bank’s FinTech innovations include interoperable retail payment systems, digitising payments such as cash transfers and bill payments, as well as innovative identity solutions that help include vulnerable sections of the society such as rural population, women and forcibly displaced persons.

For his part, AFI Executive Director Norbert Mumba stressed: "There is a constant urge to stay connected with pervasive access to digital  technology, and this is transforming our personal relationships, the way we do business and the fundamentals of
finance and economics.”

“There is a long way to go, and technology holds promise,” Mumba continued, explaining that “FinTech is transforming the financial services industry radically, and innovations such as big data analytics, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, digital identity and blockchain are already disrupting financial services both at the front-end and the back-end.”

“Yet, technology and data driven financial services pose cyber-security, data privacy and consumer protection risks,” he added, calling on regulators, FinTech companies and other stakeholders to leverage innovations in a “responsible and safe manner” to reach out to vulnerable sections of the society. 

Up to this point, the CBJ has achieved two of the 11 targets at the Maya Declaration of commitments for a greater financial inclusion, breaking barriers on consumer protection and national financial inclusion strategy. 

But the Kingdom is still facing challenges in financial literacy and education, digital financial services, microcredit and microsavings and financial inclusion data, according to AFI sources. 

Running through April 6, the forum is set to cover topics, such as regulating innovations, proliferation of digital credit and regulatory implications, leveraging FinTech to address the refugee crisis and blockchain technology for financial inclusion, according to organisers. 

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