IMF Managing Director Urges Public Sector Involvement in Digital Finance Voyage

Kristalina Georgieva, IMF Managing Director
Kristalina Georgieva, IMF Managing Director

SINGAPORE: In her speech, Georgieva highlighted the progress made by countries in investigating CBDCs and developing regulations to guide digital money developments. However, she also emphasized that there is still much uncertainty over use cases and space for innovation.

Kristalina Georgieva, IMF Managing Director, speech extract “It’s a pleasure to be in Singapore again. And it’s an honor to join you this morning at this impressive forum to take stock of how far we’ve come and set the course for the future.

There is no better place to look into this future than Singapore — a place where fintech flourishes and where this festival brings the unlimited energy of fintech enthusiasts.

FinTech innovation has already been transformative — and will continue to be so — changing the world of finance and making it much more accessible to hundreds of millions of businesses and people who used to be cut off from it.

I am proud the IMF is part of this great community and that I am with you today. I come in the footsteps of my predecessor, Christine Lagarde, who five years ago gave a speech here encouraging policymakers to follow the “winds of change,” and embark on a digital money voyage by exploring the use of central bank digital currencies, or CBDCs, and fintech.

Five years on, I’m here to provide an update on that voyage. I have four main messages. First, countries did set sail. Many are investigating CBDCs and are developing regulations to guide digital money developments. Second, we have not yet reached land. There is so much more space for innovation and so much uncertainty over use cases. Third, this is not the time to turn back. The public sector should keep preparing to deploy CBDCs and related payment platforms in the future. Fourth, these platforms should be designed from the start to facilitate cross-border payments, including with CBDCs.

We’ve left port and are now on the high seas. This calls for courage and determination. We can learn from you: entrepreneurs, business leaders, and investors. You are a sailor in the world of fintech. Every day you brave the open waters. Waves and winds are your inspiration.

If anything, we need to raise another sail to pick up speed. The world is changing faster than most imagined. Just take artificial intelligence – a key theme of this festival. Look at the number of months before various applications reached 100 million users. The average is 3 years. It took ChatGPT 2 months!

Georgieva urged the public sector to continue preparing to deploy CBDCs and related payment platforms in the future, designed to facilitate cross-border payments, including with CBDCs. She also stressed the importance of collaboration across international institutions, central banks, and ministries of finance to guide the desirable properties of cross-border platforms from a policy standpoint.

Georgieva announced the launch of a CBDC Handbook on the IMF website, intended to collect and share knowledge on CBDCs for policymakers around the world. She also highlighted the potential benefits of AI in amplifying the benefits of CBDCs, improving financial inclusion, and providing personalized support to people with low financial literacy.

Georgieva concluded her speech by urging the fintech community to continue sailing together on the digital finance voyage, with the potential payoff of a more inclusive international financial system that meets future needs.


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