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IMF bats for digital currency at Singapore Fintech Festival 2018

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), urged central banks to consider launching digital currencies as she outlined the findings of the international organisation’s new report at the Singapore Fintech Festival 2018.

IMF managing director spoke on the changing nature of money, which faced a “historic turning point”. She noted decreasing demand for physical cash globally, and voiced her support for exploring digital currencies as a viable alternative.

“I believe we should consider the possibility to issue digital currency,” she said. “This currency could satisfy public policy goals, such as financial inclusion, and security and consumer protection – and could provide what the private sector cannot: privacy in payments,” reports Southeast Asia Globe.

According to Christine Lagarde, digital currency offers great promise, through its ability to reach people and businesses in remote and marginalized regions whereas banks are not rushing to serve poor and rural populations. This is critical, because cash might no longer be an option here. If the majority of people adopt digital forms of money, the infrastructure for cash would degrade, leaving those in the periphery behind, she explained.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave the keynote speech at the Singapore Fintech Festival 2018. Praising the spirit of innovation, power of imagination, and passion for change, Modi discussed the “historic transition… brought about by technology” and the “[changing] global economy” before announcing the launch of a new online marketplace.

“Technology is defining competitiveness and power in the world and it is creating boundless opportunities to transform lives,” Modi said. “We must … ensure that the pace and the push of fintech works to the advantage of the people, not to their disadvantage… That technology in finance ensures improvement of the human condition through direct contact with the most marginalized.”

Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) managing director Ravi Menon presented a meticulous overview of the fintech space and its various developments, centered around three principles of Innovation, Inclusion, and Inspiration.

In particular, he probed into the idea of a world immersed in financial services — where identity is made human again through biometrics, where payments are virtually invisible, where insurance is intuitive, and where financial advice is integrated.

According to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) – the city state’s central bank and financial regulatory authority – more than 380 investors indicated intentions to invest up to $6.2 billion in Asean enterprises in the coming year, with an additional $6 billion earmarked for the subsequent two years Participating investors showed the most interest in start-ups and growth-stage enterprises.

The largest event of its kind in the world, the Singapore Fintech Festival 2018 welcomed more than 40,000 participants and 250 speakers. There were more than 400 exhibiting companies from over 100 countries with 16 country pavilions at the festival. Speakers focused on several main themes in the fintech world, including artificial intelligence in finance, cyber-security, the future of money and banking and fintech opportunities for the region.

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