FinTech and financial inclusion – a global perspective.


Held on Thursday, June 28, 2017, 12.30-2.15pm


  • Simon Long (The Economist)
  • Matthew Saal (World Bank)
  • Kelly Bewers (Accenture) 



At the beginning of last month, The Economist published a really important special report into financial inclusion, focusing primarily on the impact that financial technology can have on excluded and underserved populations in poorer countries. While it covers some familiar ground (M-Pesa etc), what makes it different is that it is pretty much bang up-to-date, covering the inroads Alipay and Tencent have made, the potential of blockchain (ho hum) and the response of ‘legacy’ players like Western Union. Inevitably, it also looks at particular problems: concentration, over-indebtedness, privacy – and how one can reach those who fall through even the finest of safety nets.

It is (as one would expect) a sterling piece of work, and we are delighted that the principal author has agreed to talk us through what he learned – and where he feels FinTech can/cannot make a difference. Simon Long edits the paper’s international section, having previously been finance and economics editor and written the ‘Banyan’ column from Asia. Before joining The Economist in 1995, he spent nine years at the BBC, primarily focusing on Asia. He knows his onions.

However, his will not be the only voice on show. In addition, I am delighted that we have two equally knowledgeable respondents:

  • Matthew Saal is a lead financial sector specialist in the Financial Inclusion, Infrastructure, and Access team at the World Bank, on exchange from IFC were he was head of digital finance in the Financial Institutions Group. Prior to joining the Corporation, he was an associate director at the EBRD in London.
  • Kelly Bewers is a senior manager at Accenture Development Partnerships, working with (I quote) “leading international development organisations, NGOs, private and public sector partners to develop sustainable, innovative and market-based solutions to positively impact the lives of people in the developing world”. Can’t say fairer than that.

This round-table is itself a JV – this time, between the CSFI and the Financial Inclusion Forum. We are, therefore, grateful to our own Financial Inclusion Fellow, Christine Allison, and the FIF team, in particular Eugene Amusin and Sam Mendelson. However, the format is as usual: other than the Chatham House Rule, no rules apply and interventions are welcome.

If you (or a colleague) would like to join us for an important look into what technology can do to help some of the least advantaged people in the world, please let us know by emailing or calling the CSFI on 020 7621 1056. There will also be wine and sandwiches to keep the discussion ticking over.

Sincerely yours,

Andrew Hilton