Digital finance: A new focus for ADB?

A man sends money through a mobile phone app. Photo by: Monito / CC BY

MANILA — The Asian Development Bank is aiming to be “more strategic” in the integration of financial technologies in its projects and programs, according to the bank’s finance sector group chief.

The bank has been supporting its member countries in modernizing their payment systems to expand citizens’ and small and medium enterprises’ access to finance, often difficult for those living in remote rural areas where financial institutions are hard-pressed to maintain services due to high costs and inaccessibility. But it has not often been the main focus, and the way the bank had done this had not been very systematic.

“It was in the design stage, but it was not so strategic because the whole fintech is so new. You know a project is approved, then it runs for three to five years. So the few years you go, fintech is not really on the radar,” Lotte Schou-Zibell, who is also technical advisor for finance in ADB’s sustainable development and climate change department, told Devex following the conclusion of the 2nd Asia Finance Forum: FinTech and Sustainable Development that took place at the ADB headquarters in Manila.

But the bank — or Schou-Zibell’s team, to be exact — is now developing a work plan for the next two years that will allow them to look at ADB’s project pipeline, often published a few years in advance, and identify which projects in which countries are supporting or aimed at financial inclusion. From there, they aim to identify which of those projects the bank can integrate digital financial technologies, such as mobile money and cloud computing.

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About the author

  • Ravelo jennylei

    Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.