Excitement over fintech reached fever pitch in 2018, notwithstanding the puncturing of the Bitcoin bubble at the start of the year. And there are good reasons to be excited by the potential for new technologies to change the financial sector in a positive direction. However, as with much new technology, the outcomes are by no means assured.
FSD’s work is increasingly focused on trying to help harness the on-going disruption of the sector in a way which will create real value for people. Seven years ago, we were involved in the birth of digital credit in Kenya. Today there is a vibrant and competitive market for digital credit. Our research has found many ways in which this has had a positive and empowering impact in people’s lives. But overall it remains a very mixed story, and we are convinced in FSD that active measures to mitigate the potential harm—especially for the poorest—are now needed through appropriate regulation of market conduct.
On the positive side, experimental work in many areas of the real economy from agriculture and energy to healthcare and education are starting to show how fintech can be used to create value.
Our 2018 Annual Report shares some of the stories of our work with partners aimed at exploring the frontiers of how we can create a better kind of financing. While our contributions are modest, we see ourselves as part of a bolder movement to realise a brighter vision for the financial system as an enabler of sustainable human development.